Dems seek feds' help in California methane leak

Dems seek feds' help in California methane leak

California’s two Democratic senators are asking federal officials to investigate a methane leak at a Los Angeles-area natural gas storage facility. 

In a Wednesday letter to the heads of the Justice and Transportation departments and the Environmental Protection Agency, Sens. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinEncryption helps America work safely — and that goes for Congress, too Democratic lawmakers demand government stop deporting unaccompanied children DOJ probing stock transactions made by lawmakers ahead of coronavirus crisis: report MORE and Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerPolls show big bounce to Biden ahead of Super Tuesday Sanders poised for big Super Tuesday Establishment Democrats rallying behind Biden MORE asked officials to begin looking into potential federal responses to the leak. 

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Their requests include a “legal analysis of any federal authorities that could apply to this incident and storage fields in general,” and a “technical analysis of whether Southern California Gas Company could more quickly reduce the gas stored in the facility to mitigate the uncontrolled” methane leak.

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) last week declared a state of emergency because of the methane leak, caused by a fissure at a Southern California Gas Co. storage facility, which is sending 110,000 pounds of methane into the air each hour. Officials say the leak likely won’t be sealed until late February or March. 

Those efforts aren’t happening fast enough for affected California residents, the senators wrote in their letter. 

“We have great concern for the thousands of residents of the nearby community of Porter Ranch who have been impacted by this ongoing disaster,” they wrote. 

“After consultation with federal and state agencies in California, it is clear that the federal government can play an important role.”

Three Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee wrote a similar letter to federal agencies last week, asking what more could be done at the leak site.

“We believe that it is critical that the federal government also play an active role, in cooperation with its partner agencies in the State of California, to stop this ongoing leak and address the impacts to local residents,” Feinstein and Boxer wrote.