The company behind California’s methane disaster knew the well leaked 24 years ago

Last fall, a 7-inch injection well pipe ruptured 500 feet below the surface of Los Angeles, after ferrying natural gas for six decades. The resulting methane leak is now being called one of the largest environmental disasters since the BP oil spill, has pushed thousands of people out of their homes, and has quickly become the single biggest contributor to climate change-causing greenhouse gas emissions in California. But it’s not the first time this well sprang a leak—and Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas), which owns and operates the well, knew it…

So who’s to blame for a leak that cannot be stopped? Aging natural gas equipment may have contributed. According to documents filed with the California Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources, this particular well, referred to as Standard Sesnon 25, was originally drilled in 1953, and showed signs of leakage 24 years ago, in 1992. Inspectors reported that they could hear the leak through borehole microphones.

Gene Nelson, a professor of physical science at Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo, California who has seen the document, said that he found it “appalling that SoCalGas did not identify this as a well to shut off,” after receiving this feedback.

There have been other problems documented at this facility before. And in 2014, inspectors at the wells documented corrosion and negative integrity trends…

Other safety issues have been pointed out recently, too. Earlier this month, The LA Times reported that attorneys representing some of the 1,000 residents suing SoCalGas over the leak claim the company failed to replace an important safety valve that was removed in 1979 — a valve that could have stopped the current leak in its tracks. The plaintiffs also allege that the company again identified leaks at the site five years ago, but never implemented plans to fix them…

So far, some 2,300 homes have voluntarily evacuated and several schools have been closed, with many residents complaining of headaches and nosebleeds from the foul-smelling chemical additives. These include radon, hydrogen sulfide, and an odorant called mercaptan, which is added to the gas both before and after it leaves the storage field.

The well, which funnels natural gas to 22 million customers in the Los Angeles Basin, is expected to take another three months to plug. O’Connor says that the disaster is a telling sign about the viability of natural gas in a country of aging infrastructure.

The methane released into the air will take about 10 years to convert to slightly less of a danger to the climate. Just one more example of crap infrastructure – private and public – crippling the economic and environmental life of our nation. Infrastructure our elected officials refuse to regulate or repair.

100 years after 1st birth control clinic opened, conservatives still hate freedom of choice

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Outside the crumbling Brooklyn building where the first U.S. birth control clinic opened 100 years ago, Alexander Sanger reflected on the move that landed his grandmother in jail and fueled a controversy over women’s reproductive rights that has raged ever since.

“This is where it all started,” said the grandson of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger in his first visit to the Brownsville, Brooklyn, site where she started her clinic in 1916.

“She threw down the gauntlet and said, ‘Preventing women from contraception is inhumane,'” said Sanger…

Some of the reproductive rights battles that Margaret Sanger fought a century ago were remarkably similar to the challenges facing Planned Parenthood today, particularly organized religion’s objection to sex education, her grandson said…

The religious-liberty fight over contraception is back in the U.S. Supreme Court, which will rule by July on whether religious groups deserve a blanket exemption so that they do not have to pay for their employees’ contraceptive coverage as mandated under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act…

Opponents have waged a decades-long string of attacks on abortion providers, the most recent in November when a gunman killed three people at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic. Since 1993, there have been 11 murders and 26 attempted murders due to anti-abortion violence…

Planned Parenthood itself is in the crosshairs, with the Republican-led Congress voting as recently as this week to cut all of its federal funding, although Obama, a Democrat, has vowed to veto the measure when it reaches his desk.

A USA Today poll in December found Americans overwhelmingly oppose cutting off federal funds for Planned Parenthood. Some 59 percent of Republicans and 89 percent of Democrats are against the idea…

The controversy was well under way 100 years ago when Sanger and her sister, both trained nurses whose mother died young after giving birth to 11 children, opened the clinic. They fitted women for diaphragms, which were the most effective birth control available at the time but were illegal under the federal Comstock Law against distributing materials that could be used for contraception.

One patient turned out to be an undercover police officer, and nine days after the clinic opened in the low-income Jewish and Italian neighborhood, it was shut down, and Sanger was under arrest

Today about half of the 6.6 million pregnancies annually in the United States are unintended, a higher proportion than in Europe…

“It’s still the poorest of the poor who are having more children than they want, who are having children earlier than other women, who are not getting access to preventive methods when they need them – whether it’s in Brownsville or Rio de Janeiro,” Sanger said. “That same struggle was my grandmother’s struggle, and it is mine.”

The fight remains the same, the enemies of knowledge and progress remain. People who fear education, freedom, individual liberty – diminishing numbers continue to gather inside the mouth of the little intellectual cave they live within and try to hold off their fears with chants and weapons.

The rest of us embrace the dawn.

4 reasons why America’s teen birth rate just reached an all-time low

There are 42 percent fewer teen births now than just seven years ago. In 2007, 4.2 percent teenage girls in the United States gave birth. In 2014, the rate was 2.4 percent.

That decline is unprecedented, and spans all 50 states. And the states where it is dropping the fastest are diverse: Colorado, Arizona, Georgia, and Florida have all had declines above 40 percent…

Experts like Ginny Ehrlich know that the teen birth rate is dropping fast — faster than it has since the federal government began to keep count. They know that this is not about teens terminating more pregnancies; separate data shows the teen abortion rate has steadily declined since the late 1980s.

What they don’t understand is what, exactly, is driving the trend…

That being said, they did have a lot of compelling ideas about what might be happening, trends that don’t explain the entire decline in teen pregnancies but might tell some smaller part of the story. Here’s a handful of them:

Americans are having fewer children in general

As the economy turned south in the late 2000s, demographers noticed the start of a predictable trend: Birth rates began to drop. That change makes perfect sense and has shown up in prior economic downturns: Couples seem to delay having babies when budgets are tight…

Teens are using better contraceptives

One of the biggest recent changes in teens’ sexual behavior is the type of contraceptives they choose. Teenagers have increasingly gravitated toward long-acting, reversible contraceptives such as IUDs and implants. The percentage of women using these types of methods grew from 0.4 percent in 2005 to 7.1 percent in 2013 — a 17-fold increase in less than a decade…

High school students wait longer to have sex

Every two years, the federal government asks America’s teenagers a series of relatively intimate questions about their sex lives. This is the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, and it shows that high schoolers today have less sex than their parents did when they were teens…

Maybe sex ed is working?

The birth rate for all teenagers is falling. But it’s falling much faster for young teens. Since 2007, births have fallen 47 percent for young teens — and 39 percent for older teens.

To Ehrlich, this suggests there’s something about the environment that young teens are in that is different. She thinks there is something about the high school environment — perhaps better sex education — that is working well for younger women.

In all cases, the rallying points for religious morality, conservatives who want women ignorant and obedient, have failed. If “failed” is too strong a word – then try “unproductive”. I don’t care how or why some folks still think they have to limit choices and education for women; but, it hasn’t and won’t work. For anything – whether the topic is birth control, reproductive rights, voting rights, healthcare.

RTFA for more detail, graphic info. Some of it surprising. Gratifyingly so.