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It took a crisis near Porter Ranch to show what's wrong with the gas industry

It took a crisis near Porter Ranch to show what's wrong with the gas industry
SoCalGas crews and technical experts attempt to safely stop the flow of natural gas leaking from a storage well at the utility’s Aliso Canyon facility near Northridge section of Los Angeles. (Javier Mendoza / Associated Press)

To the editor: How sad that it took a methane leak in an affluent community to highlight the failings of the underregulated and blatantly negligent gas industry. ("The real emergency at Porter Ranch? California's dangerous dependence on fossil fuels," editorial, Jan. 7)

By law, our cars must undergo regular smog inspections, but gas companies are not required to conduct frequent inspections on gas wells? Even more unbelievable, the Southern California Gas Co. did not bother to install safety valves in most wells and is aware that some wells are failing.

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The only silver lining to this obscene tragedy is the spotlight on the cozy and unethical bond between gas lobbyists and legislators, whose priorities clearly have not included public and environmental health. Have we finally had enough of dirty energy, dirty politicians and the damage they incur on real lives?

Wendy Blais, North Hills

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To the editor: It's welcome news that residents of Porter Ranch who have been experiencing scary reactions to additives in the leaking methane won't have long-term health problems. Still, their short-term problems are nasty enough.

The unwelcome news is that methane is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide in its effect on climate change, a long-term, major health disrupter. The magnitude of this leak is exacerbating an environmental disaster for all of us.

Preventing and controlling methane leaks require better regulations moving forward, which Gov. Jerry Brown's emergency declaration lays out. Using our laws to challenge the drivers of climate change is also a potent agent.

The California Civil Code defines a public nuisance as "anything which is injurious to health" and that "affects at the same time an entire community or neighborhood, or any considerable number of persons." This and all methane leaks surely qualify.

Liza White, Los Angeles 

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