Disasters

California Fines SoCal Gas for Corroded Pipe Casings

The CPUC issued the fine after finding dozens of violations

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) issued a citation for violations of a federal regulation on Southern California Gas Co. (SoCal Gas) totaling $2.25 million. The citation is based on forty-five violations of a federal regulation requiring that operators “take prompt remedial action to correct any deficiencies indicated by” external corrosion monitoring. According to the May […]

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Former Massey Energy CEO Sentenced to Prison for Actions Leading to 2010 Coal Mine Disaster

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What Broader Environmental and Worker Safety Enforcement Lessons Can Be Learned Here?

A federal district judge on Wednesday sentenced Don Blankenship, the former Chief Executive of Massey Energy, to serve one year in federal prison–the maximum term allowed by law–and to personally pay a criminal penalty of $250,000 for Blankenship’s acts of omission and commission that led to the notorious 2010 coal mining disaster at Massey’s Upper […]

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Mitigating the Climate Impacts of Aliso Canyon

Equipment and machinery is seen on a ridge above a natural gas well known as SS25 in Southern California Gas Company's vast Aliso Canyon facility. Pressure on the company has been mounting as residents of nearby Porter Ranch deal with the odor resulting from a leak at the well which was discovered on October 23. 12/14/2015

Staff from California Air Resources Board released the Draft Aliso Canyon Methane Leak Climate Impacts Mitigation Program last week. While the program has yet to gain approval by the Board, the final version will probably not change much. Overall, the Draft Program signals ARB’s desire to take full advantage of the political will and financial […]

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Lessons From Flint

Flint water

A public-minded researcher discovers serious contamination of drinking water. His efforts to alert local officials are rebuffed. Concerned over how this will affect their reputation and the town’s economy, the authorities sit on the evidence and deny any problems. All the while, trusting people continue to drink unsafe water. While the setting may call to […]

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Risk Subsidies and the Future of Nuclear Power in the U.S.

Should We Take Into Account Government Subsidies that Reduce the Risks Borne by the Nuclear Industry as We Consider Our Energy Future?

As I’ve written about before, U.S. law massively subsidizes the nuclear power industry.  In particular, a law called the Price-Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act dramatically skews the incentives to develop nuclear plants, and to site them in places where there is a lot of risk, because it requires the public to bear much of the […]

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Lessons from Aliso Canyon, Part II

Equipment and machinery is seen on a ridge above a natural gas well known as SS25 in Southern California Gas Company's vast Aliso Canyon facility. Pressure on the company has been mounting as residents of nearby Porter Ranch deal with the odor resulting from a leak at the well which was discovered on October 23. 12/14/2015

Leaks in Regulation

  Today, Southern California Gas announced it has successfully and permanently stopped the methane leak at its Aliso Canyon storage site. This marks the (fingers-crossed) end of a multi-month environmental crisis in northwest Los Angeles, causing residents to move and schools to close. Earlier this month, I blogged about the possible lessons we could learn […]

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Public Prosecutors Zero In on SoCal Gas, Porter Ranch Disaster

Aliso Canyon

California Attorney General, L.A. District Attorney File New Enforcement Prosecutions

The massive leak from Southern California Gas Company’s Aliso Canyon natural gas field in northwestern Los Angeles County was discovered on October 23rd of last year and, more than three months later, shows no sign of abating.  Public prosecutors have pretty clearly lost patience with SoCal gas and its ineffective remediation efforts to date.  This […]

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Disaster Law and Policy

Disaster Law & Policy cover

A new textbook on the emerging field of Disaster Law.

I’m delighted to announce the publication of the third edition of Disaster Law and Policy. Although I might not normally use this blog to promote a new book, I’d like to think in this case this is more than just shameless self-promotion.  That’s for two reasons: the lion’s share of the credit for the improvements […]

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Tragedy of the Commons–California Drought-Style

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State Farmers Planting New Almond Orchards Despite Critical Water Shortages

Traveling through California’s drought-striken San Joaquin Valley repeatedly over the past year, I’ve been surprised and disheartened to see that Valley farmers continue to convert their agricultural fields to newly-planted almond orchards.  (My anecdotal observations have been confirmed by various recent press accounts.)  This development is a striking, current example of Garrett Hardin’s Tragedy of […]

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Saving California’s Beaches

Isla Vista

New expert report offers recommendations for shoreline armoring management

As California’s beach goers and residents well know, erosion and climate change are already impacting the California coastline. Eighty percent of California’s coast is actively eroding, and the latest science projects that sea levels may rise up to 5 additional feet along much of the coast by the end of this century. Higher sea levels […]

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