Appeals judge allows Aliso Canyon to resume operations

Barger said she and a litany of other county officials believe the facility should not reopen until a study is completed on the cause of the 2015- 16 gas leak.

"SoCalGas must begin injections to comply with the [state's] directive to maintain sufficient natural gas inventories at Aliso Canyon to support the reliability of the region's natural gas and electricity systems", the company wrote in a statement sent to Porter Ranch residents.

The Los Angeles-based court - which handed down the Friday decision - reversed itself the next day, calling off the order in response to the SoCalGas challenge.

"We have completed all of the regulatory steps necessary to resume injections and are in the process of completing the final operational tasks necessary to begin injections, including confirming the availability of natural gas supply".

In a message to residents, SoCalGas announced that the company has "completed the steps necessary to safely begin injections" at the facility - the site of the largest methane leak in USA history.

The legal wrangling all came about after the state Department of Conservation's Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources and the California Public Utilities Commission earlier this month said that about a third, or 42, of the wells are safe for SoCalGas to resume gas injections.

SoCalGas released a checklist of all the necessary reviews it completed in order to gain permission to reopen, which included submitting a new risk management plan and conducting a leak survey on the entire facility.

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The stay issued just hours later on Friday by the 2nd district court followed an emergency filing by county lawyers.

According to Gilbride, the CPUC and the DOGGR have said delaying the resumption of injections could pose an energy reliability risk to the Los Angeles Basin.

State agencies are directing a review of the facility's future.

SoCalGas officials insist that Aliso Canyon is safe to re-open, contending that the utility has gone above and beyond state safety requirements. The move is sure to anger many in the nearby Porter Ranch community, who have been fighting to close the facility permanently since the leak.

Scott Kuhn, deputy county counsel, said the county was very disappointed the appeals court did not issue a stay, but noted that the courts have yet to rule on the county's broader request to order state regulators to complete the safety and environmental analyses before continuing injections. They also contend further study is needed on the possible damage a large quake could cause to the storage field.

The leak began on October 23, 2015, and was contained on Feb.11, 2016. The leak poured an estimated 109,000 tons of methane into the air.

"The decision by Court of Appeals to grant the County's temporary stay is a victory for the residents of Porter Ranch and the northwest San Fernando Valley".

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