Porter Ranch residents protest expansion of Aliso Canyon gas facility

There was a sense of déjà vu, as Porter Ranch residents gathered Tuesday to protest the Aliso Canyon Natural Gas Storage Facility, the site of the largest gas leak in U.S. history.

In 2015, one of the facility's wells started leaking. Residents around the plant were not immediately notified, and it wasn’t until residents complained of odors and medical issues that plant officials admitted that one of the wells had failed. Ten thousand residents in the surrounding community were displaced, as the leak continued for more than three months.

Eventually, SoCalGas agreed to pay almost $2 billion in claims. The plant agreed to fix the numerous deficiencies that were found to have contributed to the failure. Part of the plan was to eventually close Aliso Canyon down.


Instead, the California Public Utilities Commission, citing concern over energy prices this winter, is agreeing to a request from SoCalGas to expand the storage facility, despite protests from residents and after almost a dozen politicians — including Congressman Brad Sherman, Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger and even Gov. Gavin Newsom — expressed concerns.

In a statement to the CPUC, those public officials said they're "extremely disappointed and frustrated" with the proposal to expand the facility.

The full statement can be read below:

Tuseday is the last day for public input to the CPUC. The vote is Aug. 31st, and the expectation is that the comission is leaning toward voting for the expansion. That's why residents are once again organizing, with Tuesday's being the first of several planned rallies.

In a statement to FOX 11, Dan Guthrie with SoCalGas said the company "supports the ongoing California Public Utilities Commission's review of the conditions that drove up natural gas commodity prices in the Western United States this past winter. The CPUC's proposal to increase local natural gas storage levels ahead of winter is a prudent step that would help advance our shared goal of maintaining energy reliability at just and reasonable rates."

A multi-page statement from the CPUC on the Aliso Canyon Storage Facility can be found here.