California Gov. Jerry Brown Declares State of Emergency Over Methane Leak

January 6th 2016

California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency over a massive methane gas leak near Los Angeles on Wednesday. The leak in Porter Ranch, a suburb outside Los Angeles in the San Fernando Valley, has so far caused thousands of evacuations in the area, as well as a slew of lawsuits against SoCalGas, the company that operates the site.

The leak is in a decades-old pipe buried deep in an underground well, which has released more than 77,000 metric tons of the invisible, toxic gas so far, has become California's single biggest contributor to climate change, according to state authorities and activist groups, the Guardian reported. Some experts believe the leak could be the largest ever in the U.S.

Related: One of Biggest Environmental Disasters in U.S. History Is Happening Right Now in California

Although it was discovered in October, the leak garnered widespread media attention shortly before Christmas when the Environmental Defense Fund released an infrared aerial video showing plumes of black smoke billowing from a natural gas site in Aliso Canyon.

"It is one of the biggest leaks we've ever seen reported," Tim O'Conor, California climate director for the agency, told the Washington Post in December. "It is coming out with force, in incredible volumes. And it is absolutely uncontained."


According to a statement by the governor, "all agencies of state government shall utilize all necessary state personnel, equipment, and facilities to ensure a continuous and thorough response to this incident[.]"

Methane gas is a potent greenhouse gas, thought to be more than 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide over a two-decade span, according to the Environmental Defense Fund. It carries the smell of rotten eggs, and has caused headaches, nausea, and nosebleeds for residents near the leak, in Porter Ranch, the Los Angeles Times reported.

ATTN: reached out to SoCalGas for comment, and will update once we hear back.

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