Brown declares emergency over gas leak

Gas leakGov. Jerry Brown has intervened as activists, analysts and residents decried a massive ongoing leak in a Los Angeles-area gas pipeline. “More than two months after a natural gas leak began emitting large amounts of a greenhouse gas near a wealthy neighborhood here, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency on Wednesday, ordering California agencies to move as quickly as possible to resolve the issue after previous attempts to stem the flow of methane failed,” the New York Times reported.

“In declaring the state of emergency, Mr. Brown — who has been criticized by many residents for his slow reaction to the problem — reiterated all the state has been doing to help plug the leak and monitor air quality, as well as the state’s efforts to make sure the gas company paid for disruptions and damage caused by the leak,” the Times added.

An environmental mess

The disaster afflicting Porter Ranch, one of Los Angeles’s newest communities, has broken unflattering environmental records. Already “the largest recorded natural gas leak in California’s history,” according to the Independent, the leak has been “expelling an estimated 110,000 lbs of methane into the atmosphere every hour: about a quarter of the state’s daily methane gas emissions.” Tim O’Connor, California director for the Environmental Defense Fund’s oil and gas program, told the Independent that the leak was “far greater than the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster” in its aggregate impact on greenhouse gas emissions.

Southern California Gas has conceded that its own judgment may well have been to blame for the breach. In a statement, the company revealed “it decided nearly 40 years ago against replacing an underground safety valve that could have cut off the gas leak when the storage tank first erupted in late October,” as the Fiscal Times observed. “Executives of Southern California Gas apparently concluded it was too hard to find replacement parts for the valve and that the underground storage tank wasn’t close enough to homes to warrant the time and expense. Instead, they gambled that the cutoff valve would never be needed. Now they are struggling to contain runaway greenhouse gas emissions that could cost them hundreds of millions of dollars in damages and greatly contribute to climate change.”

Fumes and fury

The news has compounded outrage and frustration in Porter Ranch, where Southern California Gas has moved to help residents cope with — or flee — the fumes. “This is the biggest community and environmental disaster I’ve ever seen, bar none,” Mitchell Englander, the neighborhood’s representative on the Los Angeles City Council, told Bloomberg. “Life there is not on hold — it’s on the edge and it’s on the brink of pandemonium. People are living with fear, uncertainty and doubt.” What residents remain have been plagued by discomfort and illness.

“A shopping center by the freeway still bustles, but the longest lines are at a storefront that Southern California Gas established to assist residents with relocation, health problems, air-filtration systems and claims. The smell of chemicals added to natural gas — which itself is colorless and odorless — pervades the air. Homes of residents who’ve already received relocation assistance sit vacant, while signs warn of increased police patrols to ward off looters. Some residents and visitors wear gas masks.”

Health officials have issued reassurances that residents’ symptoms, including dizziness and vomiting, were only temporary.

Gov. Brown himself arranged to meet neighborhood representatives. Paula Cracium, president of the Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council, told the Los Angeles Times “she and others at the meeting urged Brown to be more visible on the issue and to help with a major concern that will last long after the leak is plugged — declining property values.”

13 comments

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  1. Dawn Urbanek
    Dawn Urbanek 7 January, 2016, 08:23

    What took him so long?

    Reply this comment
  2. Flowing Waters
    Flowing Waters 7 January, 2016, 08:50

    See this link to comprehend the delay: http://www.dailykos.com/stories/2015/12/19/1462031/-Jerry-Brown-s-ties-to-the-oil-and-gas-industry-highlight-regulatory-capture-in-CA
    Excellent article by Dan Bacher. Also check out Calpers investment $79 million in Sempra! When retirement funds (of state legislators and the governor and staff) are at risk, there is an obvious conflict of interest.
    It is time for divestment from companies involved in fracking, water privatization and water bottling.

    Reply this comment
  3. Dyspeptic aka The Science Guy
    Dyspeptic aka The Science Guy 7 January, 2016, 11:12

    Of all the things to worry about regarding this gas leak, greenhouse gas emissions and climate change are the most ridiculously trivial. It’s very odd that the writer of this article would choose to focus on that aspect. It’s as if this article were written by The Sierra Club.

    When we have raging brushfires do people run around pitching a fit about the greenhouse gases generated by the fires? I don’t think so. Usually they worry about more important things like loss of life, and property/habitat destruction.

    The amount of greenhouse gases emitted by this leak probably don’t amount to even one billionth of a percent of the total atmospheric greenhouse gases. The human population of this state probably emits more intestinal methane in one day than this pipe leak will generate in it’s entirety. And remember kids, water vapor is by far the most plentiful greenhouse gas. So maybe the drought is a good thing huh?

    Can we please have a more rational perspective on this subject?

    Reply this comment
    • Flowing Waters
      Flowing Waters 7 January, 2016, 11:26

      Actually scientists have stated that this Porter Ranch So Cal Gas Co disaster equals 1/4 of the total GHGs for the state with no remedy in sight. This cannot be claimed to be insignificant. However, it is a valid point that cows and CAFOs contribute at a minimum 14% of all planetary GHGs related to methane. Watch Cowspiracy and then note that the Beef & Dairy Industry were given a pass on reporting after the Paris Climate Talks. This is not acceptable. And that ignores the immense connection with precious water resources for growing alfalfa to feed them and to clean the filth associated with CAFOs. We can vote with our pocketbooks by changing our habits from considering animals as food. California is not appropriate for dairy and beef industry during extreme drought. With over a billion trees in distress, our main carbon sink is disappearing plus creating a feedback loop with increased fire hazard. Everything is connected.

      Reply this comment
      • Dyspeptic aka The Science Guy
        Dyspeptic aka The Science Guy 7 January, 2016, 13:46

        “Actually scientists have stated that this Porter Ranch So Cal Gas Co disaster equals 1/4 of the total GHGs for the state”

        The claim that this natural gas leak equals 25% of total GHG emissions for the entire state is scientifically nonsensical. Perhaps they were referring to human generated greenhouse gases or human generated methane, not total greenhouse gases.

        As I noted earlier, WATER VAPOR is by far the most common greenhouse gas and dwarfs all other greenhouse gases combined. Methane and CO2 together are a small fraction of total atmospheric greenhouse gases compared to water vapor. More importantly as pertains to the topic of the moment, methane comprises 0.075% of total atmospheric greenhouse gases and is 200 times less prevalent than CO2 although it is alleged to be a more potent greenhouse gas. Atmospheric CO2 is currently aprox. 400 ppm (0.04%) while methane concentration is less than 2ppm (0.0002%)). Total amount of human caused atmospheric CO2 is about 3% of total atmospheric CO2 or 12ppm (0.0012%)

        The fact that you believe cow flatulence is a serious threat to the planetary ecosystem really doesn’t lend credibility to your world view. Neither does your religious zeal for a vegan lifestyle or your frankly nutty belief in a “Cowspiracy”. If I were you I would vet the numbers more thoroughly, steer (pun intended) clear of enviro-nut conspiracy theories and exercise a quite bit more skepticism.

        Even if we assume that human activity affects global climate there is nothing that this state can do to effect global climate in any measurable way. Kalifornia is responsible for about 2% of global human GHG emissions and this pipeline disaster is a small fraction of that percent. However we can waste billions of dollars impoverishing ourselves trying in vain to revert climate back to some arbitrary and idealized pre-industrial past.

        Finally, an underlying assumption of all this climate change hysteria is that global warming is necessarily a bad thing. Personally I don’t think increased agricultural output, longer growing seasons and milder winters in high latitude regions is a bad thing.

        Reply this comment
        • JimmyDeeOC
          JimmyDeeOC 8 January, 2016, 10:58

          “However we can waste billions of dollars impoverishing ourselves trying in vain …………

          Sadly, It’s not that we “can”. It’s that we “will”.

          “….I don’t think increased agricultural output, longer growing seasons and milder winters in high latitude regions is a bad thing.”

          I’ve been screaming about this for years. Even accepting climate change, one must at least admit that it is not an “infallible bad”. There ARE plenty of positives. Net-net it’s probably a wash. But you NEVER hear of that…..and certainly not on the MSM.

          Reply this comment
  4. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 7 January, 2016, 11:59

    Klown may want to divert some of that Krazee Train $$$

    Reply this comment
  5. desmond
    desmond 7 January, 2016, 18:33

    It is funny we are talking about the governor and gas.
    Some people think he is full of shit as well.

    Reply this comment
    • Ted
      Ted 8 January, 2016, 08:23

      Hmmm— let’s see– this Gov balances budgets and saves our state— and NO Repub Gov’s in 20 years can—– hmmmmm—– I’d call him brilliant!

      Trolls discuss–

      Reply this comment
      • Rex the Wonder Dog!
        Rex the Wonder Dog! 8 January, 2016, 09:45

        “— let’s see– this Gov balances budgets and saves our state—”
        Hahahahaha……….$1 BILLION in pension and healthcare debt and trillions in bond debt and the Head Stooge claims Klown “balanced” the budget! And “saved” the State.

        Gawd do I LOVE delusional stooges like Teddy Steals and his firewhiner BF! Keep up the good work Moe…err..Teddy, we love the comedic relief you bring to all of us. Now you teo get to work;

        Reply this comment
      • Ted. Mentor to the doomed....
        Ted. Mentor to the doomed.... 10 January, 2016, 20:51

        LOL– I call for the trolls and Cuddle Poodle pops up first!!!!

        it’s just that easy ™

        Reply this comment
  6. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 8 January, 2016, 06:30

    Ahh california the #1 state of eco-poppycock a state that cuts off water to farmers over some dumb 3 inch fish and now this mess Moonbeam and Newsrom need to go

    Reply this comment

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