Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

Updated at 11 a.m., May 15, 2015

In light of a report from an environmental group which found there are nearly 250 locations where planet-warming methane is leaking from natural gas lines under streets in the Greater Los Angeles area, Southern California Gas Co. officials said Friday they are working aggressively to make repairs.

“Last year, we accelerated the pace in which we repair non-hazardous leaks and have requested funding to expand our program so we can repair virtually all pending leaks over the next few years,” according to a statement from the Gas Co. “SoCalGas has maps of methane emissions on its website so the public can better understand the steps we are taking to repair non-hazardous leaks. All hazardous gas leaks are repaired immediately.”

Environmental Defense Fund researchers outfitted a Google Street View mapping car with real-time air monitoring equipment that can detect elevated levels of methane, the main component of natural gas, the Los Angeles Times reported. Starting in August, they drove the vehicle over more than 1,000 miles of roadways in Chino, Inglewood and Pasadena.

After analyzing the data in collaboration with scientists from Colorado State University, the researchers plotted the leaks and their relative size on an interactive map and reported the results to the Gas Co., which serves millions of customers in Central and Southern California.

“These leaks are all over the place: In our neighborhoods and under our cities,” Tim O’Connor, who directs the Environmental Defense Fund’s California Climate Initiative, told The Times.

Such leaks do not pose a threat to public safety, but are important to repair because they fuel global warming, he said. Methane is a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere.

Experts say that clamping down on methane leaks will be crucial to meeting Gov. Jerry Brown’s goal of slashing greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2030, The Times reported.

Gas Co. officials said the company has long worked to detect and repair non-hazardous leaks.

“Safety is our top priority and we care about the environment,” according to the company. “Our maintenance and modernization program started more than 20 years ago has reduced more than 800,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.”

—City News Service

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