Larry Buhl's blog

Federal Report Slams ExxonMobil for Safety Gaps in LA Refinery Explosion, While Activists Say Risks Remain

Chemical Safety Board inspectors outside the Torrance refinery after the blast in 2015

Outdated equipment, inadequate repair procedures, and a lack of safety standards led to a 2015 chemical explosion at the ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance, California, according to a report released this week by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB). 

The explosion on the morning of February 18, 2015 released thousands of pounds of acid and caused chemical ash to rain on a heavily populated community for hours. Eight workers had to be decontaminated, and four were sent to hospitals with minor injuries.

California Bill Requiring Analysis of What Caused Aliso Canyon Gas Blowout Moves Ahead

People holding signs protesting Aliso Canyon and supporting SB57

More than a year and a half after the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility suffered a massive methane blowout, a California state bill that would keep the facility idled pending an exhaustive analysis of the disaster’s cause was approved Tuesday in the California Senate Energy, Communications, and Utilities Committee.

Senate Bill 57, co-authored by state Sen. Henry Stern, requires the California Public Utilities Commission and the Department of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) to complete a “root cause analysis” of the source of the October 2015 methane blowout as a condition of lifting Aliso Canyon’s moratorium on natural gas injections. 

Chevron, Aera Energy Sue to Block Monterey County, California’s Voter-Approved Ban on Fracking

Anti-fracking protest in front of California state house

Last November, voters of Monterey County, California, passed a fracking ban known as Measure Z with 56 percent of the vote, despite being outspent 30-to-1 by the industry-backed group, Monterey County Citizens for Energy Independence

Passing Measure Z makes Monterey the sixth California county to ban fracking, but the first to face a serious legal challenge. 

In December, Chevron and Aera Energy, the two biggest companies drilling in Central California’s San Ardo fields, both filed lawsuits against Monterey County to block implementation of Measure Z, alleging that it restricts how they can use their property.

Oil and Gas Lobby Fights California Regulators to Keep Injecting Drilling Wastewater into Protected Aquifers

Three active oil wells in a dry California landscape

Last month the California Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR), missed its own deadline for shutting down 475 oil industry injection wells determined to be dumping toxic fluids into protected California groundwater aquifers. The division said it would continue to allow more than 1,600 other wells to continue injections into federally protected aquifers because it believes they stand a chance of being exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act protections.

Yet the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), a regional oil and gas lobbying group, is still suing the agency to prevent any wells from closing.

Pennsylvania Environmentalists Cite "Irreparable Harm" in Bid to Halt Mariner East 2 Gas Pipeline

A woman looks out on fracking activities in Pennsylvania

Soon after the Mariner East 2 natural gas pipeline received the green light from Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), three environmental groups appealed to stop construction pending further review. The groups claimed the pipeline construction activities, including tree cutting and horizontal drilling, could cause “irreparable harm” to landowners and the watershed along the project route. 

Last Friday Judge Bernard Labuskes of the state’s Environmental Hearing Board denied the request of the Clean Air Council, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, and Mountain Watershed Association to issue a temporary stay preventing Philadelphia-based Sunoco Logistics from starting construction.

California Residents and Lawmakers Fight Reopening of Aliso Canyon, Site of Huge Natural Gas Blowout

Protesters rally against the reopening of the Aliso Canyon facility with signs

It’s now a waiting game as California regulators decide whether to reopen the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility in Los Angeles County, the site of an October 2015 blowout that released an estimated 97,000 metric tons of methane over four months.

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