In response to growing health, safety, and environmental concerns, Santa Monica Mayor Sue Himmelrich has sent a letter to Governor Newsom calling for the Playa del Rey gas facility to be closed. The letter, sent on behalf of the City Council, urges the governor to commit to a timeline for closure and initiate a fair and just transition process for the site’s decommissioning.

The gas facility’s wells and infrastructure at Playa del Rey extend underneath the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve and have been the site of numerous leaks and blowouts, including a vent stack explosion in 2013 that caused a 100-foot flame to shoot into the air. The site was forced to shut down for over a year in 2011 after State regulators discovered a series of leaks. Community pressure to close the site has steadily grown in the wake of 2015’s Aliso Canyon Gas blowout. Nearly half a million people live within five miles of the Playa gas field — twice the number of residents living near Aliso.

“Santa Monica’s announcement shows just how united the local community is in its demand that the health of its members is non-negotiable,” said Food & Water Watch Southern California Organizer Ethan Senser. “We have an opportunity to create a real plan for ensuring residents and workers are prioritized as leaders in the clean energy economy. Governor Newsom must support our community in that effort.”

“Santa Monica has stood by protection of the Ballona Wetlands for many years, and so we are grateful that the City, once again, is standing up for this fragile ecosystem on the Los Angeles coast. We also applaud them for calling for the swift shutdown of this dangerous methane gas storage operation as we move toward clean, renewable energy,” stated Marcia Hanscom, Executive Committee member of the Sierra Club Angeles Chapter.

“More than 28 neighborhood groups said we don’t want this hazard in our backyards, and we want to get off polluting methane, which is terrible for climate,” said Laurene von Klan, Co-Chair of Climate Action Santa Monica. “Our Council’s letter reflects the strategies we have in place for public safety, protecting nature, and smart economic growth and sends a clear message that we want climate action now.”

Submitted by Jessica Gable