Court bars natural gas plant from reopening by Brian Melley, Associated Press, July 29, 2017, sfgate.com
LOS ANGELES — A California appeals court judge temporarily blocked a Los Angeles natural gas storage facility from reopening a year and a half after a major blowout spewed methane that drove thousands of families from their homes.
The order late in the day Friday by Associate Justice Lamar Baker of the 2nd District Court of Appeal came after Los Angeles County lawyers unsuccessfully tried to get a lower court to stop Southern California Gas Co. from resuming operations at Aliso Canyon.
State regulators recently gave approval to allow the company to pump gas into underground storage wells after an overhaul and rigorous testing. The county said it feared operations would resume Saturday.
The facility above the San Fernando Valley has been largely out of commission since an old well failed in October 2015, unleashing methane for nearly four months and leading 8,000 families to evacuate.
The utility said in response to the appeals court order that it has met and sometimes exceeded the state’s safety requirements [Isn’t that what oil and gas companies always say, no matter how much documentation exists proving them breaking the law?] for the field, and that “unnecessary delays will challenge our ability to meet” the inventory requirements regulators are asking for to avoid an energy shortage.
The blowout released the largest-known amount of climate-changing methane in U.S. history and led to widespread complaints of nosebleeds, nausea, headaches and symptoms that persisted even after the leak was capped last year.
The county’s effort to keep the facility closed hinges on a claim that the state’s extensive safety review did not take into account the risk of an earthquake from a fault that runs through the field. [Cumulative risks with all the fracking going on in the field as well?]
In rejecting the county’s petition earlier in the day, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John Wiley said he didn’t have authority to overturn orders by the California Public Utilities Commission. [Rendering holy “Judicial Review” useless?]
County lawyer Skip Miller disagreed and said the county would file a last-minute request for a stay with the higher court.
The county’s appeal said it needed to block operations because it was notified the company planned to resume operations Saturday, and if that happened its legal bid would be moot.
Many residents want to see Aliso Canyon permanently shuttered. They have held boisterous protests at the facility’s gate, at public meetings and demonstrated in T-shirts Friday that said “Shut it down.” [Emphasis added]
[Refer also to:
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