"Aliso Canyon is an important part of Southern California's energy system, supporting the reliability of natural gas and electricity services for millions of people", according to the Gas Co.
The county asked for a temporary restraining order blocking the resumption of gas injections, but Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John Shepard Wiley Jr. ruled that he did not have the authority to "interfere" in the operation of a facility governed by the California Public Utilities Commission.
"Regulating Aliso injections is the prerogative of the Public Utilities Commission", Judge John Wiley said in his order. "Under these circumstances, this court may not act".
Los Angeles County now plans to go to the Court of Appeals to request an emergency stay until they can file an injunction.
It was not immediately clear when gas injections were expected to resume.
L.A. County says seismic and other risk assessments have yet to be completed.
"We need a court to step in and tell the state regulators to finish the job", Miller said.
"In support of continued safety, Aliso Canyon will be held to what state regulators have called the most rigorous monitoring, inspection, and safety requirements in the nation", he said.
The storage site above the San Fernando Valley has been largely out of commission since an October 2015 well blowout spewed methane for almost four months and drove residents from 8,000 homes.
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"And the fear is that could shear all or most of the wells and cause a gas leak far greater than the one a couple years ago", says attorney Skip Miller. The leak galvanized ongoing opposition to the facility among many in the community, who want the storage field closed for good.
The county's legal filing estimated it would take six to nine months for an quake analysis and risk management plan to be completed.
But county officials said state regulators made the recommendation despite a warning by a former SoCalGas manager that potential "catastrophic loss of life" could happen in the event of a major natural disaster, according to court documents. "Aliso Canyon is safe to operate". SoCalGas agreed, arguing the law also doesn't require risk management or emergency response plans that specifically address earthquakes.
Meanwhile, the Public Utilities Commission, in a separate filing, challenged the Superior Court's jurisdiction on the matter - an argument that appeared to sway Wiley on Friday.
"If this Court were to attempt to stay the reinjection of gas, it would... be rendering a determination that reinjection of gas is not in the best interests of the public, is not needed to ensure reliability of the gas and electrical systems, and is not safe", the CPUC attorney wrote in their filing.
"The facility can not withstand such an event", the county argued.
DOGGR countered that it consulted with the U.S. Department of Energy's National Laboratories regarding potential geologic and geotechnical hazards.
"Neither [DOGGR] nor the National Labs concluded that safe operation of the Facility in the near term is contingent upon prior completion of the studies", DOGGR attorney's wrote. Jerry Brown to step in and authorize shut down of the Aliso Canyon natural gas field above their homes. SoCalGas officials said they were more than halfway through the process of meeting requirements for re-starting injections.
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