Congressman Sherman to Introduce Natural Gas Storage Safety Act
Sherman Oaks – Congressman Sherman (D-CA), who lives in the Porter Ranch community (site of the largest natural gas leak in history), will introduce the Natural Gas Storage Safety Act, legislation designed to prevent future gas leaks. Sherman’s home is about as close as any residence to the leak, which has displaced over 4,000 families.
The Department of Transportation’s Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has established federal safety regulations for natural gas transportation. However, PHMSA has yet to use its existing regulatory authority regarding natural gas storage. The Natural Gas Storage Safety Act would direct PHMSA to implement safety standards for natural gas storage facilities.
Last week, Sherman spoke separately to both President Obama and Vice President Biden. They agreed that White House staff would work with Sherman toward the adoption of natural gas storage regulations under existing statutory authority.
“This bill is a backstop,” said Sherman. “If PHMSA doesn’t adopt regulations using its existing authority, this bill would compel them to act.”
“The natural gas leak at the Aliso Canyon storage facility is the largest in U.S. history. This disaster could have been prevented. There are currently no federal regulations for most natural gas storage facilities. State regulations are weak or non-existent. The Aliso Canyon disaster proves that we cannot leave oversight to the gas industry.”
On October 23, 2015, a well in the Aliso Canyon storage facility in the northern portion of Los Angeles erupted. Three months later, the methane leaking into the atmosphere continues. The earliest estimates for capping the well are a month away.
Damage to the public health and environment is still being assessed. More than 4,000 families have been displaced from their homes and forced to relocate. Schools in the immediate area have been closed.
Sherman’s Efforts on the Aliso Canyon Leak:
Since the leak began, Sherman has worked to find the most effective way to stop the leak and implement new safety measures. Initially, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the leading federal agency, did not get involved, citing regulations claiming they had no jurisdiction in this area. Sherman’s office conducted the legal research and found a statute that did in fact give the EPA jurisdiction. Subsequently, the EPA has been involved both providing technical assistance to stop the leak and investigating the cause of the leak to learn how to better protect the public health and environment.
Additionally, at the urging of Congressman Sherman and others, Governor Brown issued an emergency declaration. The chief effect of which is to give the state agencies the power to order people to do what needs to be done.
Congressman Sherman also urged that businesses near the gas leak be made eligible for Economic Injury Disaster Loans from the Small Business Administration (SBA). These loans would provide relief for businesses who incurred economic losses as a result of the gas leak.