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Report: LA Gas Leak Like Adding 7 Million Average Cars to Roads Each Day

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Natural Gas Demonstration, 1889

If you have been following news out of Southern California lately, then odds are you have heard quite a bit about Porter Ranch, which has turned from a Californian community into the site of an enormous natural gas leak. That leak has been dumping methane gas into the atmosphere at a rate of about 1,300 metric tons of it each day.

Unfortunately, that is far worse than our normal emission of choice CO2, as methane can have 21 times the effect of carbon dioxide on global warming over the course of 100 years, with the most pronounced effect occurring in the first 20 years.

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Thanks to this warming imbalance, according to the Environmental Defense Fund, the leak’s methane is the pollution equivalent of putting 7 million more cars, driving the average amount, on the road each day.

As is to be expected, the concerns raised by this leak are numerous. The most immediate concern is the people around the leak, many of which are complaining of headaches, nausea, and dizziness. Over 2,000 of these citizens have been relocated. On top of that is the potential damage to the environment, which has everything to do with the statistics listed above. Third, there is debate over what is being done to stop the leak: the gas company that owns the leaking well, SoCalGas, is drilling a “relief well,” intended to intercept the leaking well’s pipe at its lowest point before filling it with concrete, destroying both wells and stopping the leak.

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Due to the inability of the company to quickly stop the leak and the environmental impact of the pollution, many are comparing this leak to the 2010 BP oil spill.

News Sources: Gizmodo, Environmental Defense Fund, Quartz