Sherman Sends Letter Demanding Federal Underground Natural Gas Storage Standards be Restored and Enforced
Sherman Oaks, CA – Last week, SoCalGas and local officials reached a $119.5-million settlement in response to the Aliso Canyon gas leak. In contrast, the Trump Administration has failed to take any action to protect American’s health and safety by implementing federal standards for underground natural gas storage facilities.
Today, Congressman Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) sent a letter to Howard Elliott, Administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), demanding that federal standards be restored and enforced.
In 2015, Sherman met face-to-face with then-President Barack Obama and received a commitment that the federal government would issue natural gas storage safety regulations. That commitment was honored on December 19, 2016, when PHMSA released an Interim Final Rule (IFR) on underground natural gas storage safety standards.
Sherman writes, “On June 22, 2016, the Obama administration reaffirmed its commitment, and the Protecting Our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety (PIPES) Act, which passed Congress unanimously, was signed into law. This legislation required PHMSA to establish minimum federal standards for underground natural gas storage facilities within two years.”
Sherman continued, “…the two-year statutory deadline to establish standards in the PIPES Act has passed. It’s outrageous that almost three years since the largest methane leak from any natural gas storage facility in the United States, that these facilities have no federal standards. This lack of action is unacceptable.”
In June 2017, the Trump administration bowed to the demands of the oil and gas industry and withdrew those regulations. Sherman sent a letter to Administrator Elliott, following PHMSA’s decision to grant a request by representatives of the natural gas industry to reconsider the rules and substantially delay their implementation.
Background: Sherman’s home was as close as any residence to the Aliso Canyon gas leak. For nearly four months, the northern Los Angeles community of Porter Ranch suffered from the largest natural gas leak in U.S. history. More than 7,000 families were displaced from their homes and forced to relocate. Two schools in the area were closed for the duration of the school year, and thousands experienced health symptoms.