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President Obama To Form Federal Task Force Investigating Porter Ranch Gas Leak

LOS ANGELES ( — President Barack Obama has agreed to convene a multi-agency task force to investigate the cause of the Aliso Canyon natural gas leak and determine ways to keep such a thing from happening again.

Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein announced the move Friday. Boxer said she is "gratified that President Obama understands that we must make sure that what happened in Aliso Canyon never happens again, and the task force he has appointed will report back in six months on how to do just that."

She said Energy Department Secretary Ernest Moniz assured her that "the task force will work with state and local officials to resolve all outstanding issues, including whether Aliso Canyon can operate safely in the future, in order to protect our people and our planet."

The leak discovered last October forced thousands of Porter Ranch residents from their homes. With the emissions now stopped, health officials are testing homes in the area to ensure those who relocated can safely return and others who live there are not harmed.

The Obama administration announced in a blog post Friday that the Interagency Task Force on Natural Gas Storage Safety will be convened and co-chaired by Lynn Orr, the Energy Department's undersecretary for science and energy, and Marie Therese Dominguez of the Transportation Department.

Orr has expertise in subsurface science and Dominguez leads the Transportation Department's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

Findings made by the task force will be released later this year in order to "help companies and states avoid future incidents," the federal officials said.

The task force will also include "technical experts" from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Interior, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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