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Calif. Senators Plan Legislative Response To Porter Ranch Gas Leak

Dean Musgrove / Los Angeles Daily News via AP, Pool

Crews from SoCalGas and outside experts work on a relief well at the Aliso Canyon facility above the Porter Ranch area of Los Angeles, Wednesday, Dec. 9. 2015.

Dean Musgrove / Los Angeles Daily News via AP, Pool

Some California lawmakers want to prohibit Southern California Gas Company from pumping more natural gas into its leaking storage facility.

Senators announced a package of bills Monday in response to the continuing leak at the edge of Los Angeles County.

The Aliso Canyon Storage Facility continues to operate, even as it pumps hundreds of tons of methane into the air every day from a broken well. Los Angeles County Democratic Senator Fran Pavley says shutting the facility down is not a realistic option.

"21 million Southern Californians rely on this energy field," Pavley says.

Southern California Gas has stopped injecting natural gas into the site, and Senators say they'll seek to prevent a resumption of pumping until experts say it’s safe to restart. They want a study of ways to minimize the facility’s use long-term, as well as new industry regulations.

"We needed to have more proactive inspections," Pavley says. "We need to have a plan as infrastructure ages out for replacement."

Los Angeles Democratic Senator Ben Allen says state regulators also need to improve their response to leaks.

"It turns out that there were about eight different state agencies that had responsibility over various aspects of the work associated with this leak and the response to this leak," Allen says.

Another bill would require Southern California Gas  to pay for the clean-up of a major gas leak out of company profits, not by charging ratepayers.

Senate leader Kevin de León says he hopes to have the legislation written within a week.

In a statement, Southern California Gas writes: "SoCalGas appreciates the legislators’ interest in the topic and looks forward to participating in the public discussion."

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