Aliso Canyon: Dangerous, Dirty, and Unnecessary

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by Chelsea Burroughs

CEH is working to end health risks from the Southern California Gas (SoCalGas) Aliso Canyon gas storage facility. We work in support of local communities whose health has been affected by the company’s polluting emissions, and we have joined legal action to hold SoCalGas accountable. We were pleased to see the Los Angeles Times come out in support of keeping the facility closed, following local community members who are urging elected officials to keep the plant closed and have called for a health study.

But as part of their continuing efforts to reopen the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility, SoCalGas recently posted a video to their YouTube account outlining the supposed reasons for the plant being “crucial” to the well-being of the Greater Los Angeles area. The company owns the Aliso Canyon storage facility, which was the source of a massive methane gas leak that began in late 2015. The leak was the largest of its kind in US history, and has caused a host of serious health problems for residents of the nearby community Porter Ranch.

SoCalGas’ video completely failed to mention the public health risks that Aliso Canyon poses to its neighbors and employees- but more than that, it claimed that it was an indispensable part of LA’s electricity grid, preventing electricity blackouts and providing stable prices. This is simply false- LA does not need Aliso Canyon. In fact, it doesn’t need natural gas at all.

Cities around the US have already disproved the myth that fossil fuels are the only reliable and reasonably priced source of energy. Take the example of Georgetown, Texas. Located in the heart of a state notorious for its deep connections to the fossil fuel industry, Georgetown went 100% renewable not because of local eco-friendly attitudes or public health concerns, but because it was cheaper. Georgetown sources half of its energy from solar and half from wind farms across Texas, allowing it to save money, reduce pollution, and save water all in one fell swoop.

Georgetown isn’t the only city with a 100% renewable energy success story. Greensburg, Kansas rebuilt its energy infrastructure after a devastating tornado, and now sources all of its energy from wind sources (somehow managing to avoid those pesky electricity blackouts that SoCalGas swears will plague a fully renewable electricity grid). And renewable success is not limited to small communities like Georgetown and Greensburg. LA’s neighbor to the north, San Jose already sources 24% of its energy from renewable sources and has pledged to go 100% renewable by 2022, demonstrating the ability of even the largest metropolitan areas to leave fossil fuels in the past.

Porter Ranch and the Greater Los Angeles area should reject SoCalGas’ arguments and embrace a renewable future. The Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility is not and never will be an irreplaceable part of the area’s energy supply, and public health concerns in the area far outweigh any concerns about going renewable. Other cities have done it- why can’t Porter Ranch?

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