Posted: Tuesday, February 14, 2017 – 3:05 PM
(CNS) – City Councilman Mitchell Englander said Tuesday he wants the South Coast Air Quality Management District to utilize proceeds from its $8.5 million settlement agreement with the Southern California Gas Company stemming from the Aliso Canyon gas leak to benefit the communities impacted by it.
Englander said he plans to submit a resolution at Tuesday’s City Council meeting asking the council and Mayor Eric Garcetti to support the idea.
“This settlement agreement completely ignores the needs of the communities directly affected by this disaster,” Englander said.
“It is imperative that the proceeds of this settlement benefit those most affected by the Aliso Canyon Gas Leak — those whose lives were upended by relocation, illness, school closures and business hardship.’
A four-month gas leak at the Porter Ranch facility from October 2015 to February 2016 spewed 109,000 metric tons of methane into the air and displaced thousands of residents.
The settlement of the lawsuit, which was reached Wednesday, includes $1 million in funding for a SCAQMD-sponsored health study on the impacts of the leak.
Another $5.65 million of the settlement amount will cover emission fees related to the leak, $1.6 million will reimburse the SCAQMD for air-monitoring costs and $250,000 will cover legal fees.
Englander’s resolution does not specify how the proceeds should be spent, but says the SCAQMD should utilize a large portion if not all of the $5.65 million in revenues in emissions fees for community benefits.”
A spokesman for the SCAQMD did not immediately respond to a request to comment.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger issued a statement in support of Englander’s resolution, adding that the Board of Supervisors is on record insisting that settlement proceeds stay in the affected communities.
Barger said the SCAQMD settlement does not go far enough to help residents.
“The AQMD settlement failed to adequately address the needs of our residents in impacted communities when it comes to funding for the long-term health study or requiring a root cause analysis and an appropriate review and assessment before gas re-injection proceeds at the facility,” Barger said.
In a Feb. 7 meeting closed to the public, the board authorized county attorneys to file another suit against SoCalGas Co., but declined to provide any details.
“The county will pursue all avenues necessary to see that the long-term health study and all safety reviews are conducted and that the Gas Company provides funding,” Barger said.