Breathing room

first_imgTHERE’S reason for hope. The Children’s Museum of Los Angeles may just be completed yet. Although contractors had threatened to leave the Lake View Terrace site Monday if they didn’t get some of the $3.3 million owed them, the Los Angeles City Council has tossed the project a lifeline. On Friday, the council agreed to dip into the city’s rainy-day fund and provide the museum – the first in the San Fernando Valley – with a $1.75 million loan. This is great news for the people of Los Angeles. Without the cash infusion, the museum would likely have never been completed. Just bringing back the contractors would have added $1.5 million to the underfunded project. Still, the future of the museum is far from assured. The city’s latest contribution covers only half of what contractors demanded. Now museum officials have 30 days other half. Then they will have until June 30, 2008, to repay the $1.75 million loan. All of which means that the rest of us still need to do our part to make this treasure for the children of Los Angeles a reality. The city’s corporations and philanthropists, who have poured a fortune into downtown, need to step up. Our politicians, who are experts at raising cash for their campaigns, must do the same for the museum. And the rest of us can help with even the smallest contribution. Then there’s City Councilman Richard Alarc n. to come up with the Alarc n’s predecessor, Alex Padilla, had promised $1 million in methane sales from Lopez Canyon would go to the museum, but Alarc n has reneged on the pledge. Alarc n ought to make good on that important commitment or find other money. Just because he helped engineer the city’s new loan doesn’t mean he’s off the hook.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Environmental group to sue Hilcorp over Cook Inlet gas leak

first_imgFootage taken from a helicopter provides a look at a gas leak first reported last week in Cook Inlet. The video, emailed to reporters by environmental group Cook Inletkeeper, shows gas steadily burbling to the water’s surface as chunks of ice float nearby.Listen nowHilcorp, the biggest oil and gas producer in the Inlet, owns the pipeline. It carries natural gas from shore to fuel two platforms built in 1964 and 1967.The leaking gas pipeline in Cook Inlet is drawing concern from environmental groups and state and federal agencies.Along with the footage, Cook Inletkeeper provided reporters with a letter it sent to Hilcorp CEO Jeffery Hildebrand telling him their intent to sue the company in 60 days. They’re claiming Hilcorp is violating of the federal Clean Water Act.“We just feel there’s an obligation on Hilcorp to do the right thing, shut down this pipeline, deal with this antiquated infrastructure they have in Cook Inlet, and operate responsibly,” said Bob Shavelson, director of advocacy for Cook Inletkeeper.Last week, Cook Inletkeeper asked state and federal agencies to force Hilcorp to shut down the pipeline.According to information Hilcorp provided to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the company has reduced the flow of gas through the pipeline since the leak started. Hilcorp estimates the leak to be between 210,000 and 310,000 cubic feet of gas per day.“It’s enough to heat probably around 700 households in Southcentral Alaska every day,” Shavelson said.In a statement, Hilcorp said the safety of its people and the environment are its top priorities, but the company argues it would be unsafe to shut down the pipeline.“If a minimum pressure is not maintained in the pipeline it could fill with water which would allow for the escape of residual crude oil, as this line was previously used as a crude oil pipeline,” Hilcorp said in a statement Wednesday night.But fixing the leak is proving a challenge. The federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, which is investigating the leak, said ice in the inlet is impeding access to the leak.Hilcorp spokesperson Lori Nelson said is monitoring ice conditions around the leak but can’t dispatch divers until the company decides it is safe.DEC reports it “may be some time until the leak is fixed,” but Nelson could not provide a more specific timeline. DEC agrees with Hilcorp that it would be unsafe to shut down the pipeline. The state agency is characterizing the leak’s risk to public health and safety as “small.”But DEC also reports it’s hard to quantify the leak’s environmental impact. It has asked Hilcorp to provide an environmental monitoring plan.Federal agencies also are worried about the leak’s environmental consequences.“We are definitely concerned that this incident could have adverse impacts to marine life, particularly marine mammals. And our greatest concern is for the endangered Cook Inlet beluga whales and possible impacts to their critical habitat,” Julie Speegle, a spokesperson for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Alaska Region Fisheries, said in a statement.NOAA estimates there are about 340 beluga whales in Cook Inlet, compared to more than a thousand in the 1980s.Hilcorp has until Feb. 20 to respond to the state’s request for more information about the leak.This story has been updated to reflect new information from Hilcorp and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.last_img read more