LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — In a largely symbolic vote, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously called Wednesday for the permanent closure of the Aliso Canyon Natural Gas Facility in Porter Ranch, operated by SoCal Gas.
The facility's methane leak was discovered in October 2015. The underground storage facility continued to leak for four months after it was discovered and is the largest gas blowout in history.
Ultimately, though, council members say they don't have the authority to shut the facility's doors. They say that action is in the hands of the Public Utilities Commission.
"You need to shut this place down, Governor Newsom," is how Matt Pakucko, who lives near the facility and is a member of an organization called Save Porter Ranch, put it to CBSLA's Tom Wait. "Since that blowout, I look at those beautiful hills and I'm disgusted by the fact that I have to live here."
In the aftermath of the leak, thousands of people left their homes and complained of myriad health issues.
The director of the environmental group Food & Water Watch California said it's about time.
"The City of Los Angeles clearly has a large role to play in helping shut down Aliso Canyon," said Director Alexandra Nagy. "We know that moving to clean energy will provide massive health benefits and will be more affordable in the long run."
Wednesdays unanimous resolution urges the Governor to take steps to accelerate a permanent closure plan for the facility and some nearby residents, like Pakucko, strongly support the move.
"You shutdown the entire state of California with an executive order for health issues," he said. "Here's your next target."
SoCal Gas released a statement after Wednesday's vote that reads in part, "Aliso Canyon is a state of the art storage facility. State regulators and independent experts have called the safety enhancements at the field the most comprehensive in the nation."
The California Governor's Office provided CBSLA with the following statement late Wednesday night:
"The state shares in the goal of identifying safe, reliable and affordable alternatives that can support the region's energy needs while protecting public health. My administration has expedited the review process for alternatives that reduce reliance on the facility as part of a workable path towards its closure that maintains energy reliability into the future."
The state Public Utilities Commission did not immediately comment on the vote.
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