california

Porter Ranch Methane Leak: Business As Usual Leads to State of Emergency

The ongoing Aliso Canyon methane leak in California — which finally earned a declaration of a state of emergency by Governor Jerry Brown — is a repeat of a story we have seen many times before.

A history of lax oversight by state regulators. Loopholes in weak regulations allowing for corporate cost cutting despite known risks. The revolving door between the oil and gas industry and regulatory agencies that oversee the industry. And politicians who fill their campaign coffers with industry donations.

The real emergency is that until this system changes, the Porter Ranch methane leak disaster in California will just be one more in a series of such events which could have been prevented with basic common sense and safety measures. 

Watch this video for more information:

California Finally Declares State Of Emergency Over Methane Leak That Forced Evacuation Of Thousands

Methane first started leaking from Southern California Gas Co.’s Aliso Canyon storage facility on October 23, two and a half months ago.

More than 2,300 homes have been evacuated in nearby Porter Ranch, a suburb of Los Angeles, and many more people are reportedly applying for help relocating after suffering nosebleeds, rashes, headaches and other serious health impacts due to the gas leak and the sulfuric stench permeating their home town.

DeSmog first reported on the Aliso Canyon gas leak and the unfolding public health crisis in Porter Ranch on December 11, while California Governor Jerry Brown was in Paris attending COP21 to burnish his credentials as a climate leader.

By December 22, the California Air Resources Board estimates, as much as 66,000 metric tons of methane, a greenhouse gas that scientists believe to be as much as 35-times more potent than carbon dioxide (though it doesn’t persist in the atmosphere as long as CO2), had escaped from the well.

California Governor Jerry Brown’s Climate Credentials In Question As Massive Methane Leak Threatens Public Health

California Governor Jerry Brown was in Paris this week at the COP21 climate talks burnishing his credentials as a climate leader.

Which has a lot of folks back home wondering: Why isn't Governor Brown using his authority to declare a state of emergency to protect the health of Californians currently endangered by the Sempra Energy methane leak at Porter Ranch?

At Tuesday’s High Level Assembly of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, Gov. Brown talked tough about his efforts to “dramatically lower” emissions of short-lived climate pollutants, including methane.

“This is probably the most immediate challenge, and the most important thing to do leaving this conference,” Brown said at the event. “Short-lived climate pollutants are something we can tackle.”

And yet, back in the Golden State, a methane leak at Sempra Energy subsidiary Southern California Gas Co.’s Aliso Canyon storage facility has been spewing massive amounts of gas for well over a month and making residents in the San Fernando Valley community of Porter Ranch sick. Hundreds of residents have already been relocated due to health issues associated with the methane leak.

Food Industry Warns Of Devastating Food Shortages Amid Climate Inaction

Leaders from the food industry issued a warning to Congress recently, telling elected politicians to take action on climate change or face a global food shortage.  Leaders from companies such as Kellogg’s, General Mills, Nestle, Mars, and many others co-signed a letter published in The Washington Post, where they warned about the threats that climate change poses to the food industry.

California Finding New Ways To Extend Benefits Of Solar To Low-Income, Minority Communities

The California legislature has sent a bill to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk that aims to extend the benefits of solar energy to communities that often have no access to clean energy technologies.

Assembly Bill 693 would create the Multi-Family Affordable Housing Solar Roofs program, which would be authorized to spend $100 million a year for at least 10 years to install solar panels on 210,000 affordable housing units in the Golden State.

It’s estimated that beneficiaries of the program would save more than $38 million per year on their electricity bills and receive another $19 million a year in solar tax credits and other benefits, a total of $1.8 billion over the life of the program, according to Al Jazeera America.

Half a Million California Students Attend School In Oil Train Blast Evacuation Zones

A new analysis by the Center for Biological Diversity finds that 500,000 students in California attend schools within a half-mile of rail tracks used by oil trains, and more than another 500,000 are within a mile of the tracks.

Railroad disasters shouldn’t be one of the ‘three Rs’ on the minds of California school kids and their parents,” said Valerie Love with the Center. “Oil trains have jumped the tracks and exploded in communities across the country. These dangerous bomb trains don’t belong anywhere near California’s schools or our children.”

California Public Pension Funds Lost $5 Billion On Fossil Fuel Investments In One Year

Two of California’s massive public pension funds lost more than $5 billion on investments in coal, oil and natural gas in just 12 months.

According to a report released by environmental group 350.org, the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) lost $3 billion and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) lost $2.1 billion from their holdings in the top 200 fossil fuel companies between June 2014 and June of this year.

Combined, the two funds lost a total of $840 million from their stock investments in coal companies alone — one-fourth of the value of their coal holdings.

California Oilfield Operators Refuse To Report Water Usage, In Violation Of The Law

How much water does California’s oil and gas industry actually use? We still don’t know, despite a 2014 law signed by Governor Jerry Brown that went into effect this year requiring companies to report on all water produced, used and disposed of by oilfield operations.

Oil and gas regulators with California’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) missed the first reporting deadline, April 30, claiming they had simply received too much data to process in time. But now we know there was probably another reason: hundreds of companies had flat out refused to obey the law.

In fact, more than 100 companies still refuse to comply with the water reporting requirements altogether.

California Distributed Energy Incentive Program Disproportionately Benefiting Fossil Fuels, Regulators OK With That

A California program designed to spur innovation in technologies for distributed generation of low-emission energy is disproportionately benefiting fossil fuels projects, primarily natural gas — and a new proposal to update the emissions threshold that determines which projects are eligible will not change that, critics of the program say.

Some 70 percent of the energy generation that has so far received rebates from California’s $83-million-a-year, ratepayer-funded Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) has been fossil-fueled, according to the Sierra Club.

SGIP, administered by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), provides rebates for distributed energy systems installed on the customer side of the utility meter — “behind the meter” in industry parlance.

California Father Sues State Over New Fracking Rules That Discriminate Against Latino Children

A California family is suing the state for failing to protect their children from fracking.

At issue are the state’s new fracking regulations, which went into effect on July 1. Rodrigo Romo, the named plaintiff in the suit, says the rules discriminate against Latino children, like his daughters, because they are far more likely to go to school or live near a fracked well.

“Everyday my daughters go to school, they fear for their health and safety because of how close the fracking wells are to their schools,” Romo said in a statement.

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