Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Lawmakers examine gas storage safety after Aliso Canyon leak

Crews work on stopping a gas leak at a relief well at the Aliso Canyon facility on Dec. 9, 2015.
Crews work on stopping a gas leak at a relief well at the Aliso Canyon facility on Dec. 9, 2015. The Associated Press

For nearly four months last fall and winter, a massive leak at Southern California Gas Co.’s Aliso Canyon storage facility spewed more than 100,000 metric tons of methane into the atmosphere before it was finally capped.

It was the largest natural gas leak in U.S. history, displacing thousands of families and raising the possibility of fuel shortages this summer that could cause blackouts throughout Southern California. It has also stirred fears about aging infrastructure at the state’s 14 gas storage facilities, which contain approximately 400 active storage wells, many of them drilled more than four decades ago.

Regulators from the Department of Conservation and its Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources, as well as representatives from SoCalGas and other industry groups, will be called before the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee, 9:30 a.m. in Room 112 of the Capitol, to discuss safety requirements for natural gas storage wells. Another hearing on the blackout threat is scheduled for May 10.

DEBATE HANGOVER: Last night’s 90-minute U.S. Senate debate in Stockton brought together for the first time five leading hopefuls – Democrats Kamala Harris and Loretta Sanchez and Republicans Tom Del Beccaro, Duf Sundheim and Ron Unz. Read the coverage from Christopher Cadelago and David Siders and watch video excerpts.

STILL STANDING: With legislative approval of the budget now requiring only a simple majority, and the GOP caucuses still bouncing back from recent superminority status in both houses, Republicans at the Capitol have a difficult time getting what they want. But they’ve never stopped wanting things! Senate Republican leader Jean Fuller and members of her caucus will discuss their priorities for this session, 11 a.m. in Room 137 of the Capitol.

VIDEO OF THE DAY: California lawmakers want money for affordable housing.

HOME IMPROVEMENT: Homeless youth and their advocates are at the Capitol for the California Coalition for Youth lobby day, asking lawmakers to support legislation that would expand the availability of emergency services and establish new programs for homeless youth, including priority enrollment and campus liaisons, at the state’s public universities. The day culminates with a rally at 11:30 a.m. on the west steps of the Capitol.

THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT: Two years ago, it was transitional kindergarten. Last year, it was child care. And Democratic leaders like Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon continue to promote public programs for California’s youngest citizens as a legislative priority. But faced with opposition from the more fiscally conservative Gov. Jerry Brown, they have found modest success so far, expanding preschool and day care slots for only low-income children. Is this targeted approach the right one, or should the state provide universal access? The RAND Corporation hosts a briefing on the costs and benefits of various early childhood education programs, 2 p.m. in Room 127 of the Capitol.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-Greenbrae, who turns 42 today.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff