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Well, if You Ask Me: California! Stop with the massive gas leak already!

By Dano T Bob - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, January 7, 2016

So, if you’ve been in a cave the last week, or on holidays time, or only follow corporate media (Washington Post did cover this), there is a massive gas leak going on in southern California right now that no one seems to know how to stop, especially the company responsible. Pretty bad, right? Yeah, really bad. Here’s the basic details:

Methane gas, a HUGE contributor to climate change as a Greenhouse Gas, is currently leaking from from a facility at Aliso Canyon(Orange County, below Los Angeles) at rate of 110,000 pounds per hour, all day everyday. Somewhere around 2,000 some odd homes have been evacuated thus far, and building moratorium has been proposed for the area near the leak. Residents are also gearing up to sue the hell out of the owners of the facility, the Southern California Gas Company(feel free to contact them).

I first learned of this leak (and I currently live in California!) on the day after Christmas via this super informative article from VICE, “Why Engineers Can’t Stop Los Angeles’ Enormous Methane Leak.” Cheery title and timing, eh?

This article does on to discuss how the EDF, Environmental Defense Fund, found out about the leak a week or so earlier via an infrared heat camera, calling it “one of the biggest leaks we’ve ever seen reported” and “absolutely uncontained.”

The leak originally sprung in mid-October (!) and currently “accounts for a quarter of the state’s entire methane emissions.” Another juicy tid bit from this read:

Methane, the main component of natural gas, is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide when it comes to climate change impact. About one-fourth of the anthropogenic global warming we’re experiencing today is due to methane emissions, according to the Environmental Defense Fund. Leaks like the current one in California, it turns out, are a major contributor. In Pasadena, for instance, just 35 miles from the leak in Aliso, investigators found one leak for every four miles.”

It goes on to say,”So far, over 150 million pounds of methane have been released by the leak, which connects to an enormous underground containment system. Silva says that the cause of the leak is still unknown, but research by EDF has also revealed that more than 38 percent of the pipes in Southern California Gas Company’s territory are more than 50 years old, and 16 percent are made from corrosion- and leak-prone materials.”

Another good article on this disaster from Gizmodo states:

“Natural gas is often touted as a cleaner energy source than oil or coal, because of the lower greenhouse gas emissions associated with burning it. But as this disaster highlights, there are insidious risk to natural gas production. Coupled with weak regulation, they can make this energy source as dirty as the fossil fuels it’s meant to replace.

“The science is crystal clear: if you allow the methane to leak, you can wipe out its climate benefits,” Tim O’Connor, director of the Environmental Defense Fund’s Oil and Gas Program in California told Gizmodo.”

The hits, to our climate, just keep on coming and Natural Gas is most certainly not a solution. So, on the heels of the so-called successful UN climate negotiations, we have this disaster. Corporate America just being Corporate America. Sure, Exxon knew about climate change and the science to back it up 40 years ago and buried the evidence via misinformation. Corporate America being Corporate America. That is why we can’t trust non-binding climate agreements and we certainly can’t trust companies to fix their own messes, which is why they should never be given the opportunity to make them in the first place. We need community control of our energy and energy policy now and not tomorrow, before this happens again and before it is too late for this to happen again. Not in my backyard in California and not in anyone’s backyard anywhere. Supporting efforts for Community Choice Aggregation, which allow communities a voice in how their energy is provided, is one small step to support. But, broader national reform is needed, big ideas like a Green New Deal for renewable energy. When is the last time you heard of a solar spill displacing communities and making people sick? This could be funded by a Carbon Tax, or a Carbon Tax could be used to buy out dirty coal plants that also poison communities. The formula for a cleaner, more just energy economy is out there, we just need to organize to produce the political will to make it happen.

So, if ya wanna complain to California Governor Jerry Brown asking him to speak out and for some action on this massive methane leak, that can’t hurt either. Same for Obama and the EPA when it comes to protecting communities from harmful methane leaks like this that not only are detrimental to people’s health but also to our entire planet’s climate. Give em hell, cause that is certainly what is being given to us at the moment.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

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