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Calif. Senate to reconsider bill requiring investigation before reopening Aliso

After failing to secure enough votes May 30, a California bill demanding answers about the Aliso Canyon underground gas storage field leak will be revisited, possibly within days.

State Sen. Henry Stern's legislation would prevent Southern California Gas Co. from reopening the field until after a state-sanctioned investigation into the root causes of the multimonth leak, which spanned October 2015 to February 2016. A law that went into effect after the leak was discovered requires the California Public Utilities Commission and a division of the California Department of Conservation to evaluate the results of multiphase testing of the remaining Aliso wells' integrity before the field can be reopened. SoCalGas has completed the required testing and has asked to bring the facility back online, but state regulators are still evaluating the situation.

Stern's bill came up three votes short May 30, when the Senate voted on whether to pass it on an urgency basis. His request for reconsideration was granted, and he expressed optimism that the legislation would be taken up again within the week.

Stern said in a statement after the vote that the "power of the gas lobby" stalled the bill, and environmental advocates expressed disappointment that the measure had not progressed.

"The Aliso Canyon storage facility is the poster child for how to poorly manage polluting fuels. Now the Senate has failed to pass a bill that would protect the public and the environment from continuing problems at that facility. Some senators made their choice: they sided with polluters when they should have sided with the public. This is very disappointing," Sierra Club California Director Kathryn Phillips said in the statement.