As required under SB-380, Section 1, 3217(d), the Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) held public hearings at the Hilton Hotel in Woodland Hills, on Wednesday, February 1, 2017 and Thursday, February 2, 2017. Both meetings had identical agendas. Counting both nights, an estimated 800 people attended.
The meetings were conducted by a professional facilitator, Mr. Caelan McGee from California State University Sacramento. Mr. Ken Harris, State Oil and Gas Supervisor represented the Division of Oil, Gas, & Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) of the Department of Conservation, and Mr. Timothy J. Sullivan, Executive Director, represented the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).
Wednesday night started off dramatically with a group of residents disrupting the proceedings and insisting that the meeting agenda be changed to forego the technical presentations by DOGGR and CPUC since the information was already presented in the documents issued by the two agencies in advance of the meeting, and provide more time for public comment. After a couple of heartfelt testimonies by two children concerning the health issues they have suffered since the gas blowout, public officials were given the microphone by the facilitator. Senator Henry Stern, Senate District 27, acknowledged the high passion and emotions in the room and then spoke about SB 146 (now SB 57) that he has introduced, requiring Aliso Canyon Gas Storage Facility to remain shut down until the root cause analysis of the well blowout of October 23, 2015 is complete and its results released to the public. The bill also includes a feasibility study to determine if Aliso Canyon is needed for energy reliability. Other elected officials who spoke included County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, City Councilman Mitch Englander, Los Angeles County Fire Department representative who called for a seismic risk analysis of the wells since many earthquake faults crisscross the facility, and Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s Deputy Director for Health Protection Angelo Bellomo, who called for a root cause analysis (of the 10/23/16 blowout) before the facility is allowed to reopen, as well as a complete, in-depth Health Study to the tune of millions of dollars over several years to access the impact Aliso Canyon Gas Storage Facility has had, and continues to have, on residents’ health. The PRNC Vice President, Susan Gorman-Chang also made a statement on behalf of the Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council (PRNC) which continues to call for the shutdown of the gas facility because it represents an immediate threat to the community’s health and wellbeing.
The facilitator then allowed public comment, but when two individuals who represented business interests spoke in favor of opening up the Aliso Canyon facility began to speak, they were shouted down by residents, and the facilitator ended the hearing early.
Thursday night the agenda changed, allowing the entire hearing be dedicated to elected officials and then public comment. While CPUC and DOGGR representatives were on stage, they did not give their presentations, instead stating that the presentations were available online at the DOGGR website (http://www.conservation.ca.gov/dog). The facilitator complimented the audience on Thursday for being respectful while getting their point across. Many Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council Board members spoke including President Issam Najm, Andrew Krowne, Jennifer Milbauer, Gabriel Khanlian. Many who participated in public comment were highly educated in geology, engineering and public safety, and they spoke eloquently about concerns regarding the safety of the Aliso Canyon Gas Storage Facility. The meeting continued long after its scheduled end of 9:00, ending at 10:45 pm once everyone who filled out a speaker card was allowed to speak.
The PRNC anxiously awaits word from CPUC and DOGGR on their decision regarding the reopening of the Aliso Canyon Gas Storage Facility. At this time, neither DOGGR nor CPUC has provided a timeline for their decision. The PRNC will stay very close to this matter, and will provide the community with any information as soon as it is received.
Stakeholder, Jon Teboe, videotaped the majority of the second night of testimony. You can view that video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J49Kvgr1Pds&feature=youtu.be
Thank you to Hannah Benet for the photos.