Porter Ranch Gas Leak Crisis: Court Orders 5,000 Evacuations

Porter Ranch AFP

After reaching a settlement with the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office over the massive natural gas leak near Porter Ranch, Southern California Gas Company is now under court order to pay up to $8,500 a month per household to evacuate and house about 5,000 residents.

Less than a week ago, Breitbart News reported in ‘Jerry Brown: Another Energy Conflict of Interest that the Southern California environmental disaster had ensnared Governor Jerry Brown after it was discovered that his sister, former California State Treasurer Kathleen L. Brown, is an $188,380 a year Board member of Sempra Energy, the Southern California Gas Company’s parent.

As a member of the and Corporate Governance and Environmental, Health, Safety and Technology committees, and owner of $400,000 in Sempra stock, Ms. Brown is a key control person responsible for responding to the crisis on behalf of the corporation.

Governor Brown has been under assault for weeks for running off to give speeches at the COP 21 climate change conference in Paris; while failing to use his executive powers as Governor to address a crisis at home by declaring a “state of emergency.”

The Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility near Porter Ranch neighborhoods has been spewing 500,000 metric tons of CO2 a month, about the equivalent to all business generated CO2 in the state. The Gas Company is trying to drill a relief well to repair a broken pipe casing 8,700 feet underground, but it is unlikely to stop the leak until early March.

Porter Ranch residents have been screaming since the leak was discovered on October 27 that they are suffering from methane poisoning, including headaches; heart palpitations; cognitive impairment; dizziness; loss of motor coordination and flu-like symptoms.

Despite what seemed like an obvious family conflict of interest, Governor Brown inexplicable has refused to recuse himself and turn management of the crisis over to Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.

As a San Francisco native and candidate for the 2016 nomination for governor, Newsom is locked in a tight race with former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and current Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. Environmental activists believe that if Newsom gained control of the crisis, he would have immediately hammered Sempra with fines and forced the Gas Company to pay for resident evacuations and relocations.

Following the December 23 court order, Chief Deputy Lo Angeles City Attorney Jim Clark told KCET, “Southern California Gas has agreed in a court order to expedite the relocation of individuals who seek relocation. There’s thousands of people waiting.”

Clark added that The Gas Company has agreed to retain 17 relocation agencies to move endangered families and will also pay for added security for evacuated homes.

The Los Angeles County and the City and School Boards on December 15 declared a “state of emergency” that will close two Porter Ranch neighborhood schools and relocate students before returning from the Christmas break in January.

Earthworks and the Environmental Defense Fund jointly released a frightening infrared aerial video that shows a billowing gas plume of methane gas that is wafting over Porter Ranch. Although natural gas is colorless, the infrared shows up as a dark and sinister gusher of pollution. The groups claim the releases have already equaled the entire annual release of methane from California’s 17 refineries.

Breitbart News estimates that the cost of lost gas from the Aliso Canyon storage facility, coupled with the 5,000 people being moved into temporary housing will cost Sempra Energy at least $1 billion.


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