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MEDIA ADIVSORY: California Methane Disaster Shows Need for Greater Regulation, Transparency

Jan. 19, 2016

MEDIA ADIVSORY: California Methane Disaster Shows Need for Greater Regulation, Transparency

Tyson Slocum, Director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program, Is Available to Comment on the Need for Greater Federal Regulation of Energy Infrastructure

A methane leak near Porter Ranch, Calif., has forced more than 10,000 residents to flee their homes due to highly flammable and toxic fumes, which can cause headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, loss of coordination, blackouts and even death. The source of the leak, which began Oct. 23 and has released an estimated 150 million pounds of methane, is the Aliso Canyon Gas Storage Field, the largest underground methane storage facility in the western U.S.

This disaster illustrates the clear need for stronger federal regulation of our nation’s energy infrastructure to protect public health and safety, consumers and the climate. Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen’s energy program, is available to comment on the regulatory and policy issues raised by this disaster, detailed below. He can tell your audience that:

  • This leak is releasing a staggering amount of pollution into the atmosphere. As a greenhouse gas, methane is 87 times more potent than carbon dioxide – and this leak alone could be responsible for more than one quarter of California’s total greenhouse gas emissions in 2016. Yet existing oil and gas infrastructure – including the Aliso Canyon Gas Storage Field – is not covered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s rules addressing methane leaks. It should be.
  • Hundreds of poorly regulated gas pipelines and storage facilities like the one near Porter Ranch are sprawled out across the nation. Most Americans have no idea if their homes and workplaces, schools and churches are sitting on top of unsafe, disaster-prone energy infrastructure. Public health and safety demands greater disclosure of the existence of these facilities, as well as robust federal safety and inspection standards.
  • SoCalGas, a regulated natural gas utility, purchased and stored the now-leaking methane gas on behalf of its 21 million California customers, and it should be responsible for reimbursing them for the lost value of the gas. Although there are estimates of the leak’s volume, no standards exist to ensure the exact volume of the leak is documented. In their absence, SoCalGas has a strong financial incentive to underreport how much methane is leaking and might avoid repaying consumers.

To speak with Tyson Slocum or to arrange an interview, please contact any of the individuals listed to the right.