Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 49 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
Exclusive to OpEd News:
OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 1/10/16

Do the Right Thing?

By       (Page 1 of 1 pages)   2 comments
Follow Me on Twitter     Message Carl Petersen
Become a Fan
  (6 fans)

"And -- and -- you know, it goes back to the whole concept of regulations, which are in everything. The reason that I -- I hate them so much is because every single regulation costs in terms of goods and services."

-Ben Carson

Hearing before the Hearing Board of the South Coast AQMD
Hearing before the Hearing Board of the South Coast AQMD
(Image by Carl Petersen)
  Details   DMCA
It is not uncommon for businesses in California to complain that they have to deal with too many regulations. Unlike their brethren in Texas, they have to deal with inconveniences like state fire codes and contributions to workers' compensation insurance, which they say puts them at a competitive disadvantage. In response, some threaten to relocate their business from Los Angeles to cities like Houston, which does not even have zoning laws. Government regulation is viewed as unnecessary "government interference" because these critics say that "market forces regulate the seller as strictly as any bureaucrat could". The 2,258 households that have been displaced by the Porter Ranch Gas Leak are living within the fallacy of this argument.

There is no doubt that government officials and the bureaucrats that they employ have failed the residents of Porter Ranch and the problem was not that Sempra Energy was too highly regulated. Natural gas has been leaking uncontrolled from an antiquated well since at least October 23, and "it does not appear that Southern California Gas violated any regulations."

In the Citizen's United ruling, the Supreme Court sanctioned an electoral system that can be equated with legalized bribery. Charter schools, gun manufacturers, utility companies and other businesses all have enough money to pour into elections so that the candidates they support are given an advantage in elections. Sitting politicians are afraid to act against the interests of these groups for fear of a well-funded opponent in the next election cycle. This results in watered-down regulations and elected officials who are dissuaded from taking actions that would be in the best interests of their constituents. In this environment, it is not surprising that government officials in Porter Ranch ignored the complaints of local residents until they were forced by overwhelming evidence, and press coverage, to acknowledge a developing environmental disaster.

As the details of the conditions that led to the leak come into focus it is clear that it is part of Sempra Energy's business plan to do the least that government requires of them and that the marketplace has little need to put the safety of California residents first. In 1976, SS-25 was already an aging well and it was found that its subsurface safety valve was leaking. Since it "was not easy to find a new part..the company opted not to replace it" and, by doing so, made the well less safe. The company ignored the potential consequences to the surrounding community because regulations did not require them to replace the valve as SS-25 was not a "critical" well. Forty years later it is probably safe to assume that the Southern California Gas Company customers, along with the residents of Porter Ranch, will be forced to pay the price for this lack of regulation.

As the Air Quality Management District (AQMD) takes its place in line to flex its regulatory muscle after the fact, they have negotiated "an order for abatement upon stipulation" with Sempra Energy that will take effect upon approval by the Hearing Board of the South Coast AQMD. At the public hearing before this Board, the company requested that this approval be granted as quickly as possible so that they can start to implement the stipulations contained in this agreement. If the company was really concerned with doing the right thing and the negotiated settlement is truly in the best interests of the residents, they would not need to wait for this approval. The company would have already put these measures into place in a marketplace that truly worked in favor of the citizens.

Porter Ranch home prices have already taken a hit as this environmental crisis drags on. There are reports of banks refusing to approve mortgages and potential buyers dropping out of escrow. It is hoped that prices will recover once the leak is finally stopped, but this assumes that potential buyers will ignore the other wells operating at the field. The cat is already out of the bag and the only way to put it back in is to update regulations so that the protection of the residents is not superseded by the profits of Sempra Energy. After all, the company has already proven they will not regulate themselves.


I am a former candidate for the District 3 seat on the LAUSD School Board, founder of Change The LAUSD and member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council. Opinions are my own.

Must Read 3   Valuable 3   News 2  
Rate It | View Ratings

Carl Petersen Social Media Pages: Facebook Page       Twitter Page       Linked In Page       Instagram Page

Carl Petersen is a parent, an advocate for students with special education needs, an elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council, a member of the LAUSD's CAC, and was a Green Party candidate in LAUSD's District 2 School Board race. During the campaign, the Network for Public Education (NPE) Action endorsed him, and Dr. Diane Ravitch called him a " (more...)

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Follow Me on Twitter     Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Make it a Headline When Trump Actually Tells the Truth

California Senate Candidate Alison Hartson on Education

Three Headlines That Got Buried Last Week

Bright Shiny Objects: Trump's Real Art is Diverting Attention

If Money Continues to Talk, We're Screwed

Finding Hope in Florida

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend