Senator Stern’s Aliso Canyon Bill Stalls on Senate Floor, Some Legislators Siding with Gas Company

SB 57 would require regulators to determine what caused the 2015 blowout before fully re-opening the storage field.

May 30, 2017

SACRAMENTO – Today, State Senator Henry Stern’s SB 57 stalled today on the Senate Floor, falling three votes shy of the two-thirds threshold required to pass it on an urgency basis. 

“Given the power of the gas lobby, I’m not surprised the bill stalled,” remarked Senator Stern. “I will continue to fight to give the residents of the north San Fernando Valley and Southern California ratepayers the comfort that another disaster like this never happens again.”

In October 2015, the largest leak of methane gas in U.S. history was discovered at Southern California Gas Company’s Aliso Canyon storage facility in the quiet community of Porter Ranch.  The blowout spewed 100,000 tons of methane into the air, until it was plugged in February 2016.  Since then, the gas field has been subject to a moratorium.  Stern’s bill would continue this moratorium until the Brown Administration completes its “root cause analysis” to determine why the well blew out.  That analysis is underway but not yet complete.

Porter Ranch resident and Secretary of State Alex Padilla noted, “Our family was among the thousands of families relocated last year due to the Aliso Canyon gas leak. I know firsthand the anxiety that many are feeling about the potential restarting of natural gas injections at the facility. SB 57 is a commonsense measure with bipartisan support. San Fernando Valley families deserve nothing less than to know that the air we breathe is safe."

"The Aliso Canyon storage facility is the poster child for how to poorly manage polluting fuels. Now the Senate has failed to pass a bill that would protect the public and the environment from continuing problems at that facility. Some senators made their choice: they sided with polluters when they should have sided with the public. This is very disappointing," commented Sierra Club California Director Kathryn Phillips.

“Too many working families in California, including SEIU members, live and work where the impact of air pollution associated with climate change is prevalent and severe,” said SEIU California Government Relations Advocate Kimberly Rosenberger. “We are deeply disappointed the State Senate failed to pass SB 57, which would have provided working families with protection from unnecessary health and safety hazards.”

SB 57 was granted reconsideration, and with families of Porter Ranch, and clean air advocates from all over the state arriving to lobby the Capitol tomorrow, the bill is likely to be taken up again this week for a second try.