Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Sustainable Energy

California Gas Leak Exposes Growing Natural-Gas Risks

As America shifts toward natural gas for energy, decaying pipelines and storage facilities are at risk of leaks and explosions.

Since it was first detected on October 23, 2015, the natural-gas leak at Aliso Canyon, a Southern California Gas Co. storage facility in the bucolic Porter Ranch community, has spewed more than 86,000 metric tons of methane into the atmosphere. On Monday So Cal Gas said it has abandoned a plan to capture and burn off the gas, which is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. That means a solution to the disaster is still weeks, if not months, off. (This long feature on Newsweek.com explores in detail the background of the leak.)

A woman holds a sign while attending a public hearing on January 16 regarding the massive natural-gas leak near Porter Ranch, California.

The Porter Ranch accident highlights a growing problem in the U.S.: as natural gas replaces coal as a key energy source, the dangers of leaks and explosions from aging pipelines and storage facilities is rising. Last year Pacific Gas & Electric was hit with a record $1.6 billion fine for a gas explosion in San Bruno, California, that killed nine people in 2010. Decaying pipelines under the streets of New York City represent a “ticking time bomb,” according to a report from TV station CBS2. Local gas distribution companies are expected to spend billions to upgrade aging infrastructure in the coming years, according to Fitch Ratings. And the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is finalizing new regulations to limit methane emissions at each stage of the oil and gas production and transportation system—but those rules will cover only new installations, not existing facilities.

(source: LA Times, San Jose Mercury News, EDF)

Cut off? Read unlimited articles today.

Become an Insider
Already an Insider? Log in.
More from Sustainable Energy

Can we sustainably provide food, water, and energy to a growing population during a climate crisis?

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Plus.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

    Bimonthly print magazine (6 issues per year)

    Bimonthly digital/PDF edition

    Access to the magazine PDF archive—thousands of articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips

    Special interest publications

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Special discounts to select partner offerings

    Ad-free web experience

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.