A relatively obscure public workshop next week may be subject to increased scrutiny, criticism, and public participation because of a massive natural gas leak from a Southern California Gas Company gas storage field in Los Angeles County.
The California Air Resources Board (ARB) will be holding the fourth of a series of workshops regarding its draft Regulation for Greenhouse Gas Emission Standards for Crude Oil and Natural Gas Facilities. Developed as a consequence of California’s landmark climate change legislation, the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32), ARB has been working on regulations to address the control and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from such facilities for a couple of years now.
Workshops of this type are typically fairly routine, usually sparsely attended by representatives of the affected industries, regulatory personnel, and the occasional environmental group.
However, this will be the first workshop to be held to discuss the new GHG regulation since the disastrous failure of a gas well at Southern California Gas Company’s Aliso Canyon gas storage facility. Located near an upscale residential area known as Porter Ranch in Northridge, CA, the massive methane leak has so far spewed a mass equal to 2.2 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) since October of last year. Methane is one of the most powerful GHGs, with a global warming potential that is more than 25 times that of CO2.
As a result of odor complaints and reported illnesses, over 11,000 people have been temporarily relocated to unaffected areas as the company has struggled to control and stop the leak. On January 6, 2016, Governor Jerry Brown declared a State of Emergency as a result of the leak and the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) has taken its own enforcement action against the company.
Given the public outcry and concern over this leak, which has attracted international attention, one can only conclude that the upcoming workshop will provide a very visible and convenient format for those demanding the closure and/or increased control of Aliso Canyon and other such facilities located elsewhere in the state.
The workshop is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. to Noon on February 4, 2016. It will be held at the Sierra Hearing Room at Cal/EPA Headquarters on 1000 “I” Street in Sacramento, CA. The workshop will also be broadcast on the web and those participating in that manner will be able to submit comments and ask questions by email, or, they may participate by teleconference as well.
More information on participating in the workshop may be found here: GHG Workshop Details