Politics & Government

AM Alert: Barbara Boxer visits community hit by Aliso Canyon methane leak

Crews work on stopping a gas leak at a relief well at the Aliso Canyon facility above the Porter Ranch area of Los Angeles on Dec. 9, 2015.
Crews work on stopping a gas leak at a relief well at the Aliso Canyon facility above the Porter Ranch area of Los Angeles on Dec. 9, 2015. The Associated Press

It took 110 days, but the Aliso Canyon methane leak has finally been plugged.

Southern California Gas Co. officials announced yesterday that the leak at the largest underground natural gas storage facility in the West – which had been spewing noxious fumes since October, driving thousands of families away from their homes in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Porter Ranch – was under control, though it still must be sealed permanently by cement.

The issue, which some critics called the worst environmental disaster since the 2010 BP oil spill for the massive amounts of greenhouse gases it released into the atmosphere, wafted up to Sacramento last month, when Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency and lawmakers took up a moratorium on new injections at the facility.

It also seems to have caught the attention of California’s representatives in Washington. U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, who recently introduced legislation seeking a federal review of the leak, will be in Porter Ranch today to meet with residents and hold a press conference at noon.

VIDEO OF THE DAY: It’s not every day you see a congressman smoking an e-cigarette in a committee hearing.

WHAT’S UP?: Keep an eye on what your legislators are up to with our Track the Legislature feature.

THINKING OUT LOUD: During his time in the Legislature, former state Senate leader Darrell Steinberg was perhaps the state’s most high-profile champion of mental health services. He co-authored a 2004 initiative that levied a tax on millionaires to fund programs for the mentally ill and he later started a foundation to work on mental health policy. (The subject also hit close to home; in 2014, his daughter, Jordana, shared for the first time her lifelong battle to overcome a severe mood disorder.) Steinberg, who is now running for mayor of Sacramento, will discuss the “future of mental illness treatment” at the TEDxSacramento event, starting at 1 p.m. at the Community Center Theater on L Street.

DOWN IN THE VALLEY: After a jaunt through the Bay Area and Los Angeles the past two days for fundraisers and an appearance on Ellen, President Barack Obama is headed back to Palm Springs, one of his favorite vacation spots in recent years. Obama is hosting an economic and security summit at the Sunnylands estate on Monday and Tuesday with the leaders from 10 Southeast Asian countries. That should still leave him some time for golf this weekend before things get underway at the summit.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS: The Legislature is out of session on Monday for President’s Day, so the AM Alert crew is taking the day off. Enjoy the long weekend (and have a very romantic Valentine’s Day)!

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff

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