|(Photo Credit: Santa Clarita Gazette)
As part of the state’s efforts to facilitate the cleanup process and ensure enforcement of California environmental regulations, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office filed criminal charges against SoCalGas in relation to the natural gas leak near Porter Ranch.
SoCalGas is already being sued by private parties and the California Attorney General’s Office for civil liability. However, the Los Angeles County DA’s charges are criminal and will go through the criminal procedure process.
It is unusual for the District Attorney to bring charges against a corporation specifically or to prosecute environmental matters generally. Typically, the District Attorney’s office prosecutes ordinary street crimes.
According to reports, the District Attorney filed four charges against SoCalGas: 3 charges concerning the corporation’s failure to immediately report the gas leak and 1 charge for the continued gas leak.
Much like the government often does with individuals accused of crimes, the District Attorney reportedly seeks to place SoCalGas on probation and coerce compliance with environmental regulations and orders.
It is alleged that natural gas has been spilling into the air since October 2015, which is believed to have caused environmental and personal health concerns for other nearby communities. While regulators, engineers and specialists from various fields seek to curb the environmental damage, it remains to be seen how the criminal prosecution of the large gas corporation will develop.