Legal troubles are mounting for the utility in charge of the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage field that has been leaking for the last three-and-a-half months. News agencies are also calling the event the Porter Ranch gas leak, in reference to the nearby housing community. As the Los Angeles Times reports, Los Angeles County officials have charged Southern California Gas Company with misdemeanor charges stemming from the leak, which could result in massive fines for the agency. The California attorney general has also signed on to class a action lawsuit from nearby residents seeking damages. The news comes as representatives of the utility claim that the leak may be stopped in the next few days, which will come as a huge relief to the thousands of nearby residents who have been dislocated because of the spill.
As we reported earlier, the California Air Resources Board estimated in late January that the Aliso Canyon leak had emitted the equivalent of 2.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. This is more greenhouse gas than 440,000 cars emit in a year. The immediate impact that this will have on birds is unclear. While we know that greenhouse gas emissions are predicted to have significant long-term effects on birds, it is less clear what the pollutants are doing to birds in the here and now.
I took a tour of our Sonoma Creek Enhancement Project with Meg Marriott, Refuge Biologist at San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge. It's hard to tell in the video but we saw Marbled Godwits, Willets, and Long-billed Curlews.
Here's another short clip from San Francisco Bay this weekend. The current herring run is attracting a lot of birds.
Great editorial by the Sacramento Bee editorial board about the ongoing controversy at the California Coastal Commission, where pro-development commissioners are trying to oust the agency's executive director:
"Whether he stays or goes, the relationship between commissioners and staff will be beset with distrust and dysfunction. Anyone with business before the commission will have to factor in the conflict. And any replacement for him will be automatically suspect. At this point, the commissioners could hire Poseidon as executive director, and it would be assumed that he was there to turn Big Sur into the Jersey Shore."
Audubon California's Anna Weinstein talks about protecting the small fish that seabirds need to survive. Your voice can make a difference right now, as fisheries managers are taking comment on new regulations that could go a long way toward protecting the food resources. Speak up today.