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Aliso Canyon To Resume Operations After Judge Reverses Order To Temporarily Halt Reopening

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Activists calling for the total shutdown of Aliso Canyon. (Photo by Alex Wong / Getty Images)
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A state appeals court judge ruled Saturday that the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility can resume operations, despite the County's bid to halt reopening and dedicate more time to safety and environmental reviews. On Friday, a County judge denied L.A. County's bid to block the reopening of Aliso Canyon, after which the County attorneys submitted emergency filings to the state appeals court. The appeals court granted the temporary restraining order but reversed it Saturday after Southern California Gas Co. filed a motion opposing the stay.

County officials claimed the storage facility had not undergone enough safety reviews following the October 2015 methane leak that was the worst in national history. SoCalGas disagrees; in a statement sent to the L.A. Times, a spokesman for the company said, "We have met — and in many cases, exceeded — the rigorous requirements of the state's safety review." County attorneys specifically referenced the need for more earthquake reviews, arguing that the Aliso Canyon facility "cannot withstand a major earthquake," according to L.A. Daily News. SoCalGas responded to their concerns by saying state regulators had "carefully considered" the seismic threat.

The facility will resume operations at 28% of its capacity, just enough to "avoid energy disruptions in the Los Angeles area." The facility is the largest natural gas storage facility in the state, and regulators compiled a report last summer that said Southern California might not be able to meet energy demands without the use of Aliso Canyon, according to the L.A. Times. State lawmakers argued the report didn't consider alternatives to Aliso and questioned its methodology.

Porter Ranch residents have staunchly opposed the reopening of Aliso Canyon, with local activists calling for a total shutdown of the facility.