A woman walks past a Porter Ranch sign at the entrance to Southern California Gas Co.’s Aliso Canyon storage field. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
A woman walks past a Porter Ranch sign at the entrance to Southern California Gas Co.’s Aliso Canyon storage field. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Operators of the controversial Aliso Canyon gas storage facility would be prohibited from resuming full operations of the site under a proposed state law that was endorsed Tuesday by two local officials.

County Supervisor Kathryn Barger and Los Angeles City Councilman Mitchell Englander both submitted motions to their respective colleagues endorsing legislation to extend the prohibition of gas injection into the Aliso Canyon gas storage facility.

The facility was the location of a massive leak in late 2015 and early 2016 that emitted 109,000 metric tons of methane and displaced at least 7,000 Porter Ranch area residents for months.

State Sen. Henry Stern’s bill would extend the prohibition of gas injection into the facility until officials have determined the cause of the leak and publicly released the findings.

SB 146 would also change the deadline for the state Public Utilities Commission to open proceedings about the possibility of minimizing or eliminating the use of Aliso Canyon from July 1 to Dec. 31.

“It is unacceptable that as we approach the one-year anniversary of the closure of the Aliso Canyon Leak, we still don’t know the root cause of the largest leak in U.S. history,” Englander said.

“With over 15,000 residents relocated, two schools closed and dozens of businesses affected, it is simply irresponsible to reopen without a completed investigation,” he said. “If you grounded a plane because of engine problems, you would never allow that plane to fly unless you were certain of the cause of the failure and able to prevent it.”

State regulators earlier this month issued a series of proposed regulations under which Southern California Gas Co. would be able to resume injecting natural gas into the Aliso Canyon facility, but at reduced amounts and lower pressure levels than the company requested.

A final decision on whether the injections can resume will not be made until after a pair of public hearings are held next month, allowing residents to comment on the proposed safety procedures and operating restrictions.

The Board of Supervisors was scheduled to consider Barger’s motion Tuesday.

“To address the serious concerns of residents living near the Aliso Canyon facility, this bill ensures that every effort is made to find and address the root cause of the leak last year which forced thousands from their homes, caused serious health concerns and disrupted countless lives,” Barger said.

—City News Service

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