Most people may not have heard of the enormous natural gas leak that has been occurring in Aliso Canyon, California for the last two months, generating 62 million standard cubic feet of methane per day. The leak, as massive as it is, appears impossible to stop for another three to four months.
1,000 people have already issued health complaints due to the fumes emanating from the leak. Most of the hazardous pollutants remain below dangerous levels, but natural gases can still cause short-term, adverse health effects.
The leak began after a well casing 500 feet underground was damaged—workers have attempted to stop the gas flow, drilling a “relief” well to intersect the leaking well at the source of the leak.
Natural gas is composed primarily of methane, which has enormous warming power—considering our current issues with climate change, this does not bode well. According to Mashable, it “has increased the state's greenhouse gas emissions from methane by 25 percent,” which is a significant amount.
Timothy O’Connor, director for the Environmental Defense Fund, said that this leak is “unprecedented” in California and “undermining years of progress.” He stated that, “This story… about Aliso Canyon is one that is specific to California, but this canyon represents a bigger problem. This event is the sort of embodiment of... why we need comprehensive methane regulations from oil and gas infrastructure.”
Lack of rigorous regulation is the same reason we suffered the terrible BP oil spill; disasters such as these are due to human error and easily preventable.