Gas Leak Legislation Signed by Governor

Friday, September 23, 2016

SACRAMENTO, CA – Legislation authored by Senator Ben Allen (D – Santa Monica) to

strengthen the mitigation of methane gas leaks from underground storage facilities was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown today.  The bill, SB 888, requires fines and penalties assessed for a gas leak to be at least equal the amount needed to fully mitigate the climate impacts of the leak.  The legislation also improves the state’s response to future gas leaks by designating the Office of Emergency Services as the lead point of contact for the government.

“Given the scale of the disastrous gas leak at Porter Ranch, it is imperative that the fines and penalties assessed to the responsible party are enough to fully mitigate the harmful impacts of these emissions.  We cannot let this leak, or future leaks, undo all the progress we have made to combat climate change in our state,” Senator Allen said.

The gas leak at Aliso Canyon began on October 23, 2015 and lasted nearly four months.  It was the worst such leak in U.S. history which, at its peak, caused climate pollution equivalent to the daily emissions of seven million cars, or six coal-fired power plants.

The experience at Aliso Canyon shed light on the fact that the state currently lacks a lead agency to oversee response efforts and remediation actions for this type of disaster. Unlike an oil spill, which triggers a rapid, comprehensive response in which various agencies work together to stop a leak and deal with clean up, there is no such coordinated system in place for natural gas leaks.  Under SB 888, the Office of Emergency Services will be the lead agency to coordinate the response among the various state and local departments for future gas leaks.

SB 888 is one of three bills put forward in the state Senate in response to the Aliso Canyon leak.  SB 886, which has been signed into law by the governor, imposed a moratorium on new gas injections at the Aliso Canyon underground storage facility.  SB 887 would strengthen laws regulating gas storage facilities by requiring annual inspections, continuous monitoring, and the development of emergency response plans.

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