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Victory: A Working-Class Neighborhood Defends Itself Against a Dangerous Gas Project -– And Wins

Residents fought back after a company wanted to store 8 billion cubic feet of natural gas beneath a densely-populated, urban community in southeast Sacramento, California.

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When it finally came time for Commissioner Sandoval to cast the deciding vote, the tension in the room was palpable.  Up until the last moment, even the Commissioner’s closest advisors seemed unsure of her decision. 

“The question before us is really a balance of the needs of this project against the potential harms,” Sandoval began, adding that she appreciated the comments offered by community residents.  She went on to discuss the unprecedented nature of permitting this kind of project under a densely populated neighborhood, referencing points made in Greenlining’s letter distinguishing this project from the gas storage area under Playa Del Rey.  Ultimately, given the limited need for the project and potential alternative measures, Commissioner Sandoval announced her opposition.

The crowd erupted in cheers at the final vote – an extremely close 3-2 decision denying the project.  Residents jumped from their seats and into each other’s arms, embracing through tears of joy and exhaustion after a hard-fought victory.  "I don't even think I believe it yet," said Constance Slider, Vice President of AGENA. "It has been an incredible battle, one of the biggest of my personal life and of this community's existence."

The Commission’s decision not only means that the residents of Avondale/Glen Elder succeeded in protecting themselves from this project’s serious health and safety risks, it ensures that other communities will not be forced to brave similar battles.

 

Amanda Werner is a student in David J. Epstein Public Interest Law and Policy Program at UCLA School of Law and was Green Assets Intern at The Greenlining Institute (www.greenlining.org) from June to August, 2012.

 
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