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Protesters Occupy CPUC Headquarters to Dramatize Gas Storage Field Concerns

Environmental activists on Tuesday stormed the San Francisco headquarters of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to demand that a dozen natural gas storage facilities in the state be closed in the wake of a four-month-old storage well leak in Southern California (see Daily GPIFeb. 16).

The action was taken as U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz arrived in Los Angeles to tour the problematic gas storage well site at Southern California Gas Co.'s (SoCalGas) 3,600-acre Aliso Canyon underground storage facility, the state's largest.

Protesters scaled the front of the CPUC building to unfurl a large banner covering the state seal, protesting what they allege is the CPUC's "failure to protect [the state] from the climate and health impacts of methane from underground natural gas storage facilities."

A spokesperson in the CPUC public information office verified that the banner was hung but said there was no disruption of the regulatory commission's work.

"While plugging the leak at Aliso Canyon has been a good step, today we are demanding that the CPUC shut down all gas storage facilities, and until they do, we are occupying the CPUC," said Christy Tennery-Spalding, a member of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of Rising Tide North America.

SoCalGas and state regulatory officials have been under fire in recent weeks to do more regarding the safety and oversight of storage facilities (see Daily GPI,Feb. 1).

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