Aliso Canyon: The Invisible Disaster.

There is a massive methane leak in California that you may not even know about. Since mid-October, a broken pipe located 8,000 feet below ground has been leaking an estimated 50,000 kilograms of methane every hour, but Governor Jerry Brown only declared a state of emergency over that leak last week.

The ruptured pipe is located in Porter Ranch, California and the well is owned and operated by the Southern California Gas Company. Despite the warnings of environmental groups about the dangers of methane and concerns about aging infrastructure, it had been over a year since that pipe was tested, and no safety mechanism had ever been installed.

According to the attorney for local residents, who have already suffered serious health effects, “The safety valve that should have been at the bottom of the well to prevent [gas] from migrating up is not present in the wells...”

In other words, just like the BP blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, SoCal gas could have installed the proper safety mechanism to protect the public, but corporate greed stood in the way of social responsibility. And, just like the Gulf spill, the company has been unable to stop the massive leak ever since because of the depth of the leak and the underlying safety concerns.

Currently, that company is building a relief well to stop the blowout, but they estimate that it won't be complete for months. In the meantime, surrounding residents have been evacuated, lawsuits have been filed against the company, and one of the most potent greenhouse gases continues to pour into our environment.

In the words of the legendary Erin Brockovich, “The enormity of the Aliso Canyon gas leak cannot be overstated.” And, the fact that once again corporate greed has put our nation – and possibly our planet – at risk cannot be ignored.

In the short term, we must demand that all available resources are used to stop this leak. In the long term, we need to come together as a nation and stand up to the corporate greed that leaves us all at risk for the next disaster.

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