Will Gavin Newsom Remain “Fully Committed” in Aliso Canyon Shutdown After Gubernatorial Win?

November 12th, 2018

With the election of Gavin Newsom as California’s next governor on Tuesday, November 6th, speculation is starting to emerge as to what some of his first orders of business will be once he assumes office from current Governor Jerry Brown in January 2019.  Although Newson has been Lieutenant Governor since 2011, he won California’s gubernatorial vote with nearly 60% of the vote on Tuesday against Republican challenger and businessman John Cox. This means that, instead of following the agenda of long-time Governor Jerry Brown, Newsom will now be free to pursue his own priorities, one of which may be the closure of a gas storage facility that was the site of a giant gas leak in 2015 and 2016 in Los Angeles County.  Newson can be seen in a March 2018 video discussing the potential closure of the gas storage plant.  The plant was the site of a massive gas leak and blow out in 2015 and 2016 that resulted in thousands of area residents being sickened and costing nearly $1 billion and counting in economic damages.

The Aliso Canyon Gas Leak: An Environmental and Human Disaster of Epic Proportions

The Aliso Canyon Gas storage plant, which is located near the town of Porter Ranch in Los Angeles County, was the subject of stories by both local and national news when a gas leak occurred at the plant on October 23, 2015.  The gas storage facility is the second largest of its kind in the United States and started as an oil well that as originally drilled in 1956 and was re-purposed as a gas storage facility. Southern California Gas Company (SoCal Gas) employees at the gas storage facility discovered a massive leak in an underground storage well during one of their twice daily inspections of the well on October 23, 2015.   However, area residents suspected the leak had started well before that given that many area residents had reported to local media that they been experiencing a rash of unexplained illnesses for week before the leak was “officially” discovered and disclosed by SoCal Gas. It took until February 11, 2016 for the company’s employees to permanently seal the leak, which California state officials certified as truly sealed seven days later on February 18, 2016.  

As noted in an L.A. Times op-ed article, the leak was truly catastrophic: it lasted for 25 days longer than the famous Deepwater Horizon oil spill in Louisiana in 2010, caused the evacuation of thousands of Porter Ranch residents who experienced symptoms like nosebleeds and headaches, and ultimately resulted in more than $1 billion in damages.  Although the leak was sealed in February 2016, continuing restrictions on storage of gas at the Aliso Canyon facility were still causing gas delivery disruptions more than 2.5 years later. The Aliso Canyon gas leak remains the largest methane leak in history.

Fallout from the Leak for SoCal Gas: Criminal Charges and Lawsuits for SoCal Gas

SoCal Gas faced considerable consequences, both economic and otherwise, as a result of the Aliso Canyon disaster.  The company faced an avalanche of lawsuits related to the leak, one of which it just paid $119.5 million to settle in August with city, county and state officials and prosecutors according to another L.A. Times report. As a part of the settlement, the company also agreed to pay civil fines, fund expanded air monitoring, a government-administered health study and environmental and also bankroll climate mitigation projects across the region and state.  The company also faces hundreds of still-pending lawsuits from area residents for personal injuries and property damage suffered as a result of the gas leak.

Now That He Has Been Elected Governor, What Will Newsom Do Next Regarding the Aliso Canyon Gas Plant?

Now that he is officially going to be occupying the Governor’s mansion in Sacramento, speculation as to whether now Governor-elect Newson will take some action to shutter the Aliso Canyon gas as previously promised is swirling around both Los Angeles and Sacramento regarding his previous statements about the potential closure of the facility.  Given the extent of the environmental, public health, and economic damage that was wrought by the Aliso Canyon leak, not to mention the other 229 wells around the state found to be leaking in a 2016 state survey after the Aliso Canyon disaster, it will be interested to see what Newson does, whether he follows through on his campaign promise or instead chooses not to address this potential environmental, economic and public health calamity until it is too late and next Aliso Canyon disaster occurs.     

If You Have Experienced Property Damage or Personal Injuries as a Result of the Aliso Canyon Leak or Any Other Environmental Disaster in California, Contact the Experienced Attorneys at JT Legal Group

At JT Legal Group, our experienced property damage and personal injury lawyers can assist you if you have suffered damage to your home or business or you were injured as a result of an environmental disaster like the Aliso Canyon gas leak. Our experienced California attorneys can assist to resolve any number of other legal problems related to an environmental disaster like the Aliso Canyon gas leak, whether you suffered personal injury or property damage. Whether it is personal injuries or property damage, our experienced attorneys will go to work for you and handle obtaining and negotiating maximum compensation for your injuries or damages suffered in an environmental disaster like the Aliso Canyon gas leak.

A no cost consultation with a licensed and experienced California Personal Injury attorney regarding your unique conditions is available by calling:

1-888-LAW-3111 Monday-Friday, 8am to 6pm.

— Michael Avanesian, Esq.

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