By Doug Porter
The man made disaster in progress at Southern California Gas Co.’s Aliso Canyon underground facility is getting worse by the day. The company is a subsidiary of San Diego-based Sempra Energy.
According to the Environmental Defense Fund, the more than 80,000 tons of methane emissions since October 23rd have created the greenhouse gas equivalent on the Earth’s atmosphere of burning nearly 800 million gallons of gasoline.
Today’s Los Angeles Times says the attempts to plug the leaking natural gas well have created a crater 25 feet deep, 80 feet long and 30 feet wide, destabilizing the well-head and increasing the danger of a blowout.
State officials said a blowout would increase the amount of leaked gas, causing greater environmental damage. That natural gas also creates the risk of a massive fire if ignited by a spark. The risk of fire already is so high that cellphones and watches are banned from the site…
…That wellhead is the only control operators currently have on a well that features a 2 7/8-inch pipe surrounded by a 7-inch casing. Engineering schematics show that the pipe and casing pierce an underground reservoir of gas and that both were used to insert and remove gas from the storage cavern. For all but the top 990 feet, there was no larger pipe to contain a leak if either pipe ruptured.
The two-mile long depleted oil reserve that houses the gas is the largest natural gas storage field west of the Mississippi River. Each fall it is pumped with as much as 86 billion cubic feet of natural gas to run power plants and heat homes in Los Angeles during the winter.
Inside Climate News describes a mapping effort by Phillips and Robert Ackley of Gas Safety Inc. measuring methane emissions for the past several days near the Aliso Canyon leak.
They used a laser-based system mounted to a car. It recorded methane concentrations and plotted the readings on Google Earth. On Tuesday and Wednesday the researchers drove further from the leak and recorded methane concentrations as much as two times higher than background levels, as far as 8 miles away from the site.
“It’s not just in Porter Ranch, it’s going all the way across the [San Fernando] Valley,” Ackley said of the methane plume. The valley is home to 1.8 million people including Northridge, Winnetka and Woodland Hills, neighborhoods across the valley where the researchers confirmed increased methane concentrations.
SoCalGas is in the process of drilling a relief well which could take another six weeks to complete. The company then plans to inject tons of concrete into the ground to seal it—sorta like filling an 8,000 foot cavity.
San Diego State of the City – It’s Gonna Be Yuuuge
As predicted, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer was positively giddy about the future for America’s Finest City.
From the Union-Tribune:
Expanding and upgrading San Diego’s parks system, getting homeless veterans off the streets and rebuilding the city’s middle class are among the priorities Mayor Kevin Faulconer laid out Thursday night in his annual State of the City address.
Faulconer also endorsed for the first time Councilman Mark Kersey’s proposed infrastructure ballot measure, vowed to place a convention center expansion plan on the ballot and said there’s still a chance to keep the Chargers in San Diego.
As the team considers its option to share a new stadium in Inglewood with the St. Louis Rams, the mayor urged new negotiations with the Chargers to work out a stadium deal here.
The Trojan horse hiding amid all these lofty promises is Kersey’s ballot measure, which proposes to constrain future spending of city revenue increases. It sounds great until you realize the possibility of other cost increases being excluded by the measure.
City Councilman David Alvarez, noting that the speech was full of “nice promises,” took to Facebook to release a series of short videos contrasting the mayor’s words and deeds.
But outside the theater where the temperatures weren’t so warm, about 30 protesters gathered to draw attention to what they consider his ineffectiveness in handling city issues — from lack of police accountability to not doing enough to help the homeless.
Despite the protesters’ unhappiness with Faulconer, the Republican mayor delivered his nearly 50-minute speech with the knowledge that he faces re-election in June and so far no Democrat has emerged to challenge him.
Republican Debate Devolves into Snarlfest
The certainty that the GOP will nominate a right-wing nutjob as it’s candidate for President increased last night as the sixth debate for their candidates unfolded last night.
Donald Trump and Ted Cruz traded blows and somehow managed to both come away as winners.
Here’s Stephen Stromberg’s take, via the Washington Post:
President Obama suggested Tuesday that the United States may not, in fact, be on the verge of total collapse. The Republican presidential candidates responded in Thursday’s GOP debate by painting an even more dismal and dangerous picture than they had in the past. The president is a traitor. The military is a shell of a fighting force. The economy is a shambles. Average families are in grave danger. If Democrats win, the country is lost.
With only a few weeks left before the first primary contests, the GOP race has devolved into a competition for who can squeeze the most political advantage out of voter fear, no matter how over-the-top they sound and no matter how much damage they do by darkening the national mood. Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) “won” the latest round of this increasingly disgusting show, with Donald Trump and Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) coming in second. But being the most effective at exaggerating the dangers the country faces and preying on voter anger is not an achievement; it is a moral failure.
MSNBC’s Steven Benen called out Marco Rubio for his worst debate so far:
A month ago, a local reporter in New Hampshire spent some time with Rubio and found “it was like watching a computer algorithm designed to cover talking points. He said a lot, but at the same time said nothing. It was like someone wound him up, pointed him towards the doors and pushed play.” Last night helped prove that reporter correct.
The algorithm clearly has some glitches. On multiple occasions, Rubio repeated talking points, word for word, late in the debate that he’d already used earlier in the debate. At another point, he said, “This president, this president is more interested in funding – less interested in funding the military, than he is in funding planned – he’s more interested in funding Planned Parenthood than he is in funding the military.” Want to try that again? Talking about immigration, Rubio started complaining about Edward Snowden, suggesting there was an error in the senator’s programming.
After Rubio dodged a question on entitlements, Chris Christie said, “You already had your chance, Marco, and you blew it.” That sentence might have been more correct than Christie realized.
WalMart Closings Announced
Remember when Walmart promised San Diego it would open a bunch of new stores if the city council would only back off and let them do their thing?
We should count ourselves as lucky that the company reneged (mostly) on its promises.
WalMart Stores Inc said it was pulling the plug on its smallest store format and closing 269 stores globally, including 154 in the United States, in a restructuring that will affect 16,000 workers.
Progressive Calendar: Upcoming in San Diego
Martin Luther King Day of Service
Sunday, January 17th, Noon-4pm
Lafayette Hotel, 2223 El Cajon Blvd.
Organized by Human Rights Campaign, San Diego
Info & Updates
Let’s come together as a community to serve LGBT homeless youth on MLK Day of Service. Taking place on Sunday, January 17, MLK Day of Service is a “day on, not a day off.” It is a way to transform Dr. King’s life and teachings into community action to help bring together people, strengthen communities, and meet national challenges.
On Sunday, January 17, please volunteer with us to assemble donated items into care bags for the LGBT homeless youth served by San Diego Youth Services. We will be collecting donations from 12-2 pm and assembling care bags from 2-4 pm.
The 36th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Parade
Sunday, January 17th 2-5pm
Embarcadero on Harbor Drive in San Diego
Hosted by the Zeta Sigma Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity
Info: Dr. Bob Matthews, (619) 264-0542
This is one of the largest celebrations of its kind in the US, honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The parade is filled with dazzling floats, soulful High School Bands, Drill Teams, Colleges, Fraternities, Churches, Organizations, Peace and Youth groups.
Showing Up for Racial Justice, the local chapter of a national network of groups and individuals organizing white people for racial justice, will be marching as a group in solidarity with Black folks fighting for justice and equality. They’ll be meeting up in advance (12:30) at the County Administration Building.
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) local 569 will also be marching as a group. They’ll be meeting up at 1pm at the corner of Grape Street and Harbor Drive.
Honoring Dr. King at the All Peoples Celebration
Monday, January 18th, 9am – Noon
Balboa Park Activity Center, 2145 Park Blvd, San Diego
Updates & Info
Please note that tickets are SOLD OUT.
WorldBeat 26th Annual Multicultural Celebration
Monday, January 18th, Noon-7pm
WorldBeat Cultural Center at Balboa Park, 2100 Park Blvd
Info and Updates
Performances by several cultural groups, featuring Warrior King and the Rootz Warriors, Layne Tadesse, and 7 Seal a Dub
Gathering in Solidarity with Muslim Women
Monday, January 18th at 2pm
Balboa Park, 6th & Laurel
Updates & Info
After the recent horrific terrorist attacks, many Muslim women, particularly those who wear the hijab or headscarf, have been targeted as victims of hate crimes and discrimination across the nation and in our very own city of San Diego.
Join The League of Women Voters and The Islamic Center of San Diego for a Gathering in Solidarity with Muslim Women
Wear your headscarf and come show support! Additional scarves will be provided.
We will be joined by our friends of many faiths and backgrounds. All are welcome.
Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute Launch
Thursday, January 21st 5:30-7:30pm
MAAC, 1385 3rd Ave., Chula Vista
Info & Updates
Join the Center on Policy Initiatives for a networking reception and special panel discussion to launch our newest leadership development program, the Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute. BCLI trains and places advocates with an equity and economic justice framework onto strategic local and regional boards and commissions.
The event will feature food and drinks, and a chance to meet our inaugural 2016 fellows!
The panel will discuss the importance of boards and commissions in working towards equity and economic justice.
On This Day: 1908 – Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority became America’s first Greek-letter organization established by African-American college women. 1915 – Wobbly Ralph Chaplin, in Chicago for a demonstration against hunger, completed the writing of the labor anthem “Solidarity Forever.” 1986 – President Reagan signed legislation making Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday a national holiday to be celebrated on the third Monday of January.
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