UPDATE: Aliso Canyon bill stalls, Senate will revote

Senator Henry Stern (D-Canoga Park) speaks about Senate Bill 807 at the Senate Governance and Finance Committee hearing on Wednesday, May 10.

Porter Ranch residents are still not guaranteed Southern California Gas Company will not resume injections in Aliso Canyon, Senator Henry Stern’s (D-Canoga Park) office said Tuesday night.

Stern’s Senate Bill 57, which would keep SoCalGas from resuming injections until a root cause analysis was done for the October 2015 Aliso Canyon gas leak, was stalled on the Senate floor three votes short of the two-thirds majority it needed to pass.

However, the bill was granted reconsideration and will be voted on again later in the week.

“Given the power of the gas lobby, I’m not surprised the bill stalled,” Stern said in a statement. “I will continue to fight to give the residents of the north San Fernando Valley and Southern California ratepayers the comfort that another disaster like this never happens again.”

There is currently a moratorium on resuming these gas injections, but the bill would continue the moratorium until an analysis is completed to find the cause of the 100,000-ton methane leak.

According to SoCalGas spokesperson Chris Gilbride, if the Senate Bill 57 becomes law, the company will not have the ability to provide service as needed this summer. Natural gas storage is needed to avoid energy shortages, he said, and current restrictions make storage space limited.

“With the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasting a 60 percent chance of hotter temperatures this summer, it is crucial to restore Aliso Canyon to full service now to maintain energy reliability throughout the region,” Gilbride said in a statement to The Signal. “SoCalGas has met or exceeded mandated safety regulations at Aliso Canyon, and the field is ready for normal operation.”

Gilbride pointed to a letter from Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek to Stern in opposition of the bill. In the letter, Tornek cited a Federal Joint Interagency Task Force report from October 2016 that said the leak was caused by a failure in the outer casing of the storage tank.

“While Pasadena recognizes the value of a root-cause analysis from a universal prevention standpoint and to understandably calm public concern, it has no bearing on the safety of new operations,” Tornek wrote. “The root cause analysis proposed by SB 57 would delay the reopening indefinitely—risking electric service reliability for millions of customers.”

Secretary of State and Porter Ranch resident Alex Padilla said his family was among the thousands who had to relocate because of the gas leak.

“I know firsthand the anxiety that many are feeling about the potential restarting of natural gas injections at the facility,” Padilla said in a statement. “SB 57 is a common-sense measure with bipartisan support. San Fernando Valley families deserve nothing less than to know that the air we breathe is safe.”

Porter Ranch residents and advocates plan to lobby at the State Capitol on Wednesday in favor of the bill, according to Stern’s office.


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