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Committee Leaders Seek Answers Regarding CA Gas Leak

Jan 7, 2016
Press Release
Democrats Request Briefings from DOT, EPA

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Democratic leaders on the House Energy and Commerce Committee wrote to U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Anthony Foxx and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy seeking answers from the agencies regarding the ongoing methane leak in Southern California.  

Full Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Energy and Power Subcommittee Ranking Member Bobby L. Rush (D-IL), and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Ranking Member Diana DeGette (D-CO) sent a letter to the agencies requesting a briefing on the matter and what both agencies are doing to mitigate the potentially disastrous effects of this leak, given the shared jurisdiction. The leaders asked that the Committee be briefed by January 13th. 

The gases being continuously emitted into the air are having significant climate and public health impacts.  In the letter, the lawmakers note that, “As of January 5, over 78,000 met¬ric tons of methane are estimated to have es¬caped, the equi¬valent of burning more than 737 million gallons of gasoline.”  Additionally, nearby residents are continuing to be relocated and those still in the surrounding area are reportedly getting sick from constantly breathing in the chemicals that are added to the gas.

“This is far more than just a nuisance for neighbors.  We are seeing another potentially catastrophic man-made disaster with far-reaching impacts on the environment and public health,” said Pallone, Rush, and DeGette.  “We are asking these agencies to provide the Committee with specific information as to how this leak is being addressed at the federal level so that the thousands of families affected finally get the answers they deserve.”  

Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA), who represents the surrounding area, has also requested more information from EPA on the matter.

“I know what my constituents are going through. Our home is in Porter Ranch, just about as close as anyone to the largest natural gas leak in American history,” said Sherman.  “Therefore I am pleased that the Energy and Commerce Committee Democrats have requested a briefing on this urgent issue.  The federal government, working with state and local agencies should ensure that the quickest possible solution. Later, the federal government should adopt a natural gas storage integrity system, including mandatory ultra-sonic testing and deep sub-surface safety valves.”

Read the full text of the letter here