Assembly OK’s Aliso Canyon Moratorium

By a 68-1 vote, the California Assembly has approved legislation to halt injection of new gas into socalgas_logowells in the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility until every well there is fully tested. The measure now goes to the state Senate and, if approved there, to Gov. Jerry Brown for final action.

The proposed legislation would continue a moratorium that has been in place since February, when Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) was able to seal a well that leaked  methane into the air over a four-month period.

There are 114 wells, many decades old, in the former oil field. SoCalGas has tested some of them and has proposed resuming injection of gas by summer, before all wells are tested.

Without the capacity that Aliso Canyon provides, the utility says, shortages of natural gas to electric power plants could result in rolling blackouts during the hottest days of the summer season. Natural gas pipelines into the region don’t have the capacity to meet peak demands without drawing gas from the underground storage facility, the state’s largest.

The bill, SB380, was authored by Republican Assemblyman Scott Wilk of Santa Clarita and Democrat Sen. Fran Pavley of Agoura Hills.

Sen. Pavley, whose district includes the community of Porter Ranch that was most directly affected by the gas leak, said, “this bill holds state regulators and SoCal Gas to their promise that all 114 wells will be thoroughly investigated. This is the only course forward that provides maximum protection against another disastrous leak.”

Assemblyman Jim Patterson, a Republican from Fresno, said that without Aliso Canyon’s capacity, “the potential for significant service interruptions is real.”

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