Activist groups opposed to natural gas storage facilities held a rally Sunday at the entrance to the closed 3,600-acre Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) Aliso Canyon underground gas storage facility in the far northern fringe of Los Angeles, calling for state officials to permanently shutter the 86 Bcf capacity facility.

Activists from Food & Water Watch,, SoCal 350 Climate Action, the Center for Biological Diversity and other groups that are promoting an anti-fossil fuel agenda pushed back Sunday against the prospects for the Sempra Energy gas utility storage field to reopen in late summer. They label the facility a "public health threat" to the nearby upscale Porter Ranch residential neighborhood.

Alleging that the Aliso facility is "dangerous and never will be safe," residents like Mark Morris of the nearby Granada Hills section of Los Angeles, called for California Gov. Jerry Brown to "do what's right and order the permanent closure of Aliso Canyon; only a permanent shutdown will guarantee the safety of our health and our climate."

State energy and utility officials last week told a California Senate committee in Sacramento that without the SoCalGas storage facility to smooth the day-to-day vagaries of supply-demand in the regional gas system, both electric and gas dispatchers will fight an increasingly tough battle this summer (see Daily GPI, May 12). Hourly and daily mismatches in gas supply-demand will make the storage field's absence a source of heightened risk for power users as weather heats up, they said.

If the storage facility is to reopen it will have to pass six safety tests for all of the 114 wells that would be reactivated under the mandate of SB 380, which Brown signed into law just last week (see Daily GPI, May 11).

While hundreds of residents have refused to move back into their homes in Porter Ranch, thousands of others have done so, and state and local air quality and public health tests have found that the air quality and level of safety in homes is back to the same levels as before the four-month storage well leak at Aliso (see Daily GPI, Feb. 18).

The protests aimed at permanently closing California's largest gas storage field come as increasingly aggressive anti-fossil fuel demonstrations are popping up across the country (see Daily GPI, May 13).