Transcript: Achieving a Managed Transition Away from Fossil Fuels (CA Climate Policy Summit 2024)

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Woody Hastings (00:40:21):
So it is 4:00 PM by my clock and I’m just going to get things rolling. My name’s Woody Hastings. I’m the phase out polluting fuels program manager for the climate center. So thank you all for being in the room. Here we are waiting for one final panelist. Norman Rogers from USW 6 75 Steelworkers who sipped off for a breather. He was in a previous panel, so need a little break. But, so this is the final session in a series that we’ve had today really started in the plenary with the panel discussion with the agency representatives, Catherine Gar Rupa from Central Valley Air Quality Coalition, moderating panel with the Natural Resources Agency and the Energy Commission on a of transition bookend, right? So we started off with that. We’ve had a series on extraction, a session extraction session on refining, and now we’re going to bring it back at the other end with another discussion about how do we tie it all together?

How do we have the state of California take on a robust, meaningful, effective, equity centered, worker friendly transition from being a major fossil fuel producing state, right? That’s the mission at hand if we want to have a livable planet. So without any further ado, I’m going to introduce the moderator for this panel who will introduce the panelists. Ilanka is a climate justice organizer with oil and Gas action network working to end the era of fossil fuels with the Last Chance Alliance and is the former president of the grassroots local Climate Action Organization 350 Sacramento. She has a master’s degree in ecosystem ecology and was an environmental scientist for nearly a decade before dedicating herself fully to activism. Lover of nature since childhood Ilanka was deemed Sacramento Environmentalist of the year in 2019. So thank you so much and take it away.

Ilonka Zlatar (00:42:49):
Thanks Woody and thank you all for being here today. I was really hoping to really absorb today’s sessions so I didn’t super prepare my thoughts or remarks ahead of time. So you’re all welcome for that. So I think the last couple of panels have just done such a beautiful job of just sort of queuing up this conversation. And as I just briefly warned my panelists today, I have some sort of loose collection of thoughts that will hopefully inspire some of the conversation today. So I lived in Sacramento for many years and worked for a couple of different state agencies trying to implement some of these programs that we’re talking about today. My fingers are a little bit on the scoping plan from bits and pieces here and there and some other statewide policy stuff. And I think from my perspective as a person who really inspires to create change and be involved in change, that state agencies are not really going to do anything that isn’t put into law, right?

That’s sort of their role. They’re going to implement what the law says they should implement, and the lawmakers are not going to make any laws that the public doesn’t demand. So to me, and sort of how I came to be in the place where I am and also reacting to some of the things that Norman has brought up in earlier panels as well, is we need to start with our communities. You can have of the technical information, all of the technical solutions you want, but if people are not convinced that this is what we should do, it’s just not going to happen. So how do we package this all together in a way that makes sense for our communities to support and to move forward is something I really look forward to. But I now live in the Bay Area and I’m within a 10 mile distance of three different refineries where I live now.

And I think the previous panel did a really great job of introducing the challenges that remain with refining. We’ve seen the state of California take enormous leadership in a lot of policies that are aimed primarily at reducing greenhouse gas emissions on the demand side. So that’s through incentives, that’s through targets and policy goals to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels at the user side. And I think that was smart and I think that’s the first step that we needed to take. However, as our last panel so eloquently pointed out, we haven’t done very much in terms of actually putting real caps and reductions on production, on extraction, on refining on the supply side. So that’s where I focus my work with the activism that we do with Oil and Gas Action Network is really trying to tackle that supply side, which has been a little bit left to the next step.

Well, it’s now the next step, right? It’s time for California to put together a comprehensive plan on how we not only reduce our demand, but also reduce our supply and our usage. So we are just now, and I am very excited about this, starting to see more policies come into the fold to hold fossil fuels accountable like the fossil fuel industry accountable for the damage that they have done. We’ve seen this with the state of California and the attorney general suing several large oil companies for lying to the public for decades, for taking intentional deception to continue to profit at ridiculous levels and continuing to externalize the costs of their operations while centralizing all of the profit and gains for themselves. And we see this that in the absence of these guardrails that we’ve been talking about today, that is the incentive, keeping as much profit as you can while externalizing as many of the costs as you can.

That’s the model that we’ve decided to sign up for. We’re also seeing price gouging penalty, right? And I hope that the CEC does the best they can to implement that before the summer, which is the original deadline that we stuck to. We’re hoping that they can stick to that because we have a suspicion that the oil industry is going to use summer as an excuse to really hack up prices and start to scare consumers away from a transition. So love to hear your thoughts on that. Quentin. We’re also seeing a ton of bills coming out this session in the last session to hold these oil extracting companies accountable for all of the wells that they have left, idled and orphaned all over the state, which have become a huge issue as we heard in other panels earlier today. So it looks to me like the fossil fuel industry in California is dying and yet they are fighting tooth and nail that squeeze out the last possible pennies that they can from the state before they can no longer operate here.

And as we started to talk about in the last panel, they will do that cutting their costs as much as possible and leaving people high and dry. In our state, we know that carb scoping plan is a policy outline document. It has good bits in it. It has other bits that maybe we don’t like as much. It is not an implementable plan. There are no steps to take that we can do to achieve a full carbon neutral future. Similarly, we have seen that cap and trade is not actually reducing emissions from the state. So as our previous panelists has shared earlier, we don’t really have a comprehensive plan. We have a piecemeal approach. We have different agencies picking up different pieces of research and studies and plans and incentive programs. I was even just thinking earlier today as we were listening to other panels about if I’m a business who wants to electrify and I want to get solar panels and I want to get EV chargers and I want to electrify my fleet and my other equipment, I would have to go to probably four different agencies with four different application processes to do that, right?

So we’re not really making it easier for ourselves to go on this transition.

And that’s not to say that or not to leave out the fact that we need a plan that can actually be implemented, which incorporates a just transition for workers and focusing our investments on those who are most vulnerable. We have done this over and over again with incentive programs having a sort of first come first model in which the people who are most able to take advantage of those programs do. We are just in the last few years, have started to toy with the idea of what if we actually dedicate funding to those most vulnerable communities and actually support them with technical assistance and planning. So that’s still in the nascent stages. How do we really focus all of this investment in technologies that are used in their most appropriate use cases and that we are targeting our investments into those most vulnerable communities with their input. So anyway, that’s my loose collection of thoughts to get our panel going. So would love to hear your thoughts and reactions to what you’ve heard today throughout the day, to this framing of how do we bring together these different government agencies, communities, workers to come up with a plan that we can actually implement to bring about the end of the era of fossil fuels and into a better future. So with that, I’d like to first welcome Vincent.

Vincent Thivierge is an environmental economics researcher studying climate and air pollution policies. He is an S postdoc fellow at the uc, Berkeley and will be joining the University of Ottawa’s, department of Economics and the institute environment as Assistant Professor Vincent studies the efficiency, effectiveness and equity consequences of environmental policies to cut global and local air pollutants and ongoing projects examine the allocated efficiency changes of air pollution, cap and trade markets, and the effectiveness of carbon tariffs at reducing carbon leakage and the air pollution and health effects of decarbonization pathways in the oil and gas sector. So I really look forward to Vincent’s presentation. Please help me welcome Vincent

Vincent Thivierge (00:53:01):
Okay. Alright. Well, hi everyone. Thank you for the introduction. I’m Vincent Thivierge, a postdoctoral researcher at UC Berkeley. And on behalf of all my amazing co-authors, I’m just up here as a representative of this ongoing work on the health labor and equity in California’s oil refining transition. And we also have a separate project that’s very similar about extraction sector that’s already published, but I only have 10 minutes and this is kind of our ongoing work. So this is what I wanted to present today. We’ve heard a lot already today about the fact that transportation is the largest GG emitting sector in California and has a share of total emissions. It’s growing, and this is obviously something that the state of California is aware of. And there’s all these mostly demand side policies to cut emissions from the transportation sector. I list, it’s not an exhaustive list of them, the bans of sales of cars, EV subsidies, law, carbon fuel standards.

However, it’s not clear how these policies will affect refinery production. And we also heard about that in the previous session as a response of in-state demand side policies, refineries could instead just export their production overseas. They could also convert to renewable fuels. That means they’re still emitting, they’re still producing, or they could actually reduce production. That’s also a possibility. And the reason why the responsive refineries to these types of policies matter is because refineries are important sources of local and global air pollution. And also they are important sources of employment and tax revenue in highly populated communities across California. So what we set out to do in this study is to examine is one cohesive framework, the health and labor trade-offs of different pathways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from refineries in California. So today, sometimes you hear about the health effects and then the labor effects, but then we try to combine everything into one project.

This you can’t see very well for some reason and you can’t see it, I show you to you like this also. But this was supposed to just give you a preview of the type of data we use in this project. And what you’re supposed to see on the left map is a ton of little dots for the 15 refineries that were operating in 2022. And the red slots are the model dispersion of air pollution coming out of these refineries. And you don’t really need to worry about the fact that even when you squint, you can’t see anything. It’s the fact that refineries, it’s their pollution that is affecting communities is not just locally. The local air pollutants from particulate matter can spread out into neighboring counties. And so there’s this spatial spillover that happens that matters when you change refinery production. And the refineries are clustered mostly in the Bay Area and then Los Angeles County.

You also have a little bit in Kern County. So it matters where production happens for health outcomes. Some of these regions are more populated than others. And on the right panel you see the concentration of wages coming out of refineries and you see they’re a little bit better, the concentration of wage from refineries in Los Angeles County and then Solano and Contra Costa County. So this is just to give you an idea of the two dimensions. So specifically what we do in this study is we consider the impact of four different scenarios which reduce the production net refineries. And this is not just an absolute, we do this relative, you want to compare to a baseline. And the baseline is a reference scenario. This is the top bullet point. Our reference scenario here is we assume business as usual, kind of don’t assume any more policies from the state of California in terms of in-state fuel demand by drivers.

And then for the refineries, we keep their production at historic levels. And the four other bullet points below are all these reductions of production scenarios where it’s a combination of either we keep California drivers kind of at business as usual, or we use a low carbon in-state fuel demand scenario, which you can assume more EV subsidies, more bans and this and that. So really cutting down on the in-state demand for fuels. And then we vary how much refineries are going to export, are they going to export at historical amounts or can we see a decline of exports from refineries? So these are kind of going from least decarbonization, from most decarbonization from refineries. So this is, and you’ll see that in the figures later, but this is to kind of set the stage.

Now I’m trying to not make this super technical, but this is not my typical presentation setting. Generally it’s in an academic conference. So I want to try to just give a flavor for the three big modules that have to come together to try to model this decarbonization of refineries. I want to look at the health and the labor effects. So the first module is this production of refineries. So what we do, we start with state level fuel demand projections. So we combine a bunch of different projections that we either do in-house or we use from others. We use some of the work by Quentin’s team. They do a bunch of projections of fuels that we use, that we leverage in this study. Also, uc, Davis Institute for Transportation Studies. We can go and get their projections out from 2020 to 2045 on how is in-state fuel demand going to look like.

And then in-house we model different kinds of export scenarios for refineries. So that’s at the state level. Then another innovation of the paper is then we have this little algorithm that we built. We take the state level projections of fuel demand, and then we assign it to individual refineries depending on the year and the scenario. And this is based on the production capacity of each refinery. So then we go from state level projections to it changes in space and in time, which refinery is producing those refinery petroleum products. And the model allows for the announced conversions of petroleum refineries to renewable fuels. And it also allows for the retirement, the exiting of some of the refineries if their capacity utilization is too low. So this here gives us from 2020 to 2045, the production at different refineries in the state of California. Some of them conferred to renewable, some of them are phased out.

Now we can use these refinery level production projections. And then you multiply them by an emission factor and you get estimates of the smoke stack, the amount of air pollution coming out of smoke stacks at each of these refineries. You put that in the air pollution dispersal model. And then this tells you in time and space where the pollution goes. And then with known tools used by the U-S-E-P-A, who’s absorbing those pollutants, who’s living under that pollution and how many people their health status. And then that’ll give you a change in mortality, which is kind of gruesome, but that’s kind of what happens when you breathe too much PM 2.5 and using the value of statistical life, you can monetize that. So we get health benefits from there. And then with those same scenarios of production at the refinery level, we can, instead of turning that into air emissions, we can turn that into revenue at the refinery level.

You throw that into another model, an input output model. And then that is going to tell us the county level changes in all of employment and worker compensation. And that’s not just the direct compensation of laborers at this refinery, but it’s the suppliers and where all of these folks spend money in the county. I’m going to skip this slide. So here’s the state level result. The X axis goes from low decarbonization to the most decarbonization we get in. Our model is 80% decarbonization by 2045 from these refineries. And on the left panel you have health benefits from decarbonization. And on the right panel you have labor costs. And here the main takeaway is as you decarbonize, you get more health benefits, but also you get more labor costs. This might be obvious, but we needed to do the exercise to kind of figure that out. And in this panel, and we do more of this in the paper, we break that statewide result by disadvantaged communities as defined by the Kellen Viro screen. And here what we show.

Vincent Thivierge (00:00):
Is that the square dots here are the disadvantaged communities and the X bars are the non disadvantaged communities. Here, there’s more health benefits going to disadvantaged communities, but there’s also more labor. Cause going to the disadvantaged communities, and we’ve heard this before, but it’s, it’s really tough problems. You get all the benefits to those folks, but also a lot of the costs makes it really hard. So as a last slide, I’m not going to read the first two bullet points, but the benefits are great of decarbonization. I didn’t even talk about the greenhouse gas emission benefits that you get from decarbonization, which is the obvious one, but it really to me highlights that additional policy is needed to minimize these employment costs. This is really what we want to avoid. We want to get the health benefits, we want to get the decarbonization, but we should try to really avoid these employment costs. Thank you.

Ilonka Zlatar (01:00):
Thank you Vincent, for that. Up next, I would like to welcome our next speaker, Quentin. Quentin is the manager of the advanced electrification analysis branch of the Energy assessments division of the California Energy Commission. And I will let him tell you what he’s going to share with us today.

I don’t have slides today, but have some remarks that I can give to you all. So I manage advanced electrification analysis at the Energy Commission and there’s a lot of exciting stuff and challenging stuff in that area. But we also, in my branch, we also do what are called demand scenarios where we’re looking at all fuels in this state as we approach decarbonization. And the big one, as we all know is going to be petroleum and in particular gasoline. Some of you, well we all know gas prices go up and down, up and down. And right now they’re a little bit up and people are upset about that. In the September of 2022, I dunno anyone remember that month, it seared in my brain because I was sitting there doing my own little electrification work and suddenly gas prices hit like seven 50 a gallon in some spots. I think there’s one remote place up in the mountains. It’s known for the highest gas prices in the state. They broke $10 a gallon, but seven 50 a gallon we were seeing 7, 7 50 a gallon in various places. A lot of complaints, concerns, frustrations. On the one hand, you might say to yourself, that’s great, right? Because that’s going to push people towards zero emission vehicles. And also one thing that we did, we did some analysis actually at the time of the Russian invasion of Ukraine when they first started in February of 2022.

You do a Google Trends analysis, what are people searching for on the internet? And you saw a dramatic spike, basically a quadrupling quintupling of searching for gas price spike or oil price or something like that. So you see a quintupling of that and you also see a quintupling of the search term electric vehicle. And so a lot of people are looking at these alternatives, but then the question is, can everyone just say, I’m tired of paying seven 50 a dollars a gallon of gas, I’m going to pay, I’m going to go buy a 45,000 Hyundai Ionic five, right? Some people can do that, and some people did do that, and some people will continue to do that. And as electric vehicle prices get lower and lower and lower, yeah, there will be more opportunities and there will be a healthy used market. A lot of people, actually, most families, when they buy a car, they buy a used car, even the top fifth of income earners, they buy used cars primarily when they buy a car.

But yeah, there’ll be a healthy used market out there, but at the same time, seven 50 a gallon, it is not doable for some families, it really puts a lot of strain on them, and that’s what we’re worried about at the Energy Commission. Someone wants to go ahead and drive their super Hummer or whatever, massive SUV, and they don’t care and they grumble and gripe. That’s something we can tolerate if you can easily afford it. But we’re worried about the families that can’t easily afford it. And that’s what is really concerning to us and really got the attention of the state government. And I don’t know if you ever read in the papers, people like, oh, gas prices are high, the governor’s going to do something about it. And then I get a phone call and they’re like, oh, we know you’ve been doing your electrification work.

Why don’t you jump in on this project too? So we started to get to work on that. It’s not just me, it’s the whole team and a whole bunch of different folks too. But working with the legislature, working with all these other folks, we came up with a bill, senate bill X one dash two. What does that mean? It’s an awkward bill. These things called extraordinary sessions. So outside the first extraordinary session of 2023 and the second bill there. So SBX one dash two is what we call it. That bill has a whole lot in it. I mean, essentially you look through the bill, it’s fun, nighttime reading, I guess it’s got a lot of technical stuff around reporting, all sorts of things around reporting. The short story is kind of like, okay, open your books up, roughly. Tell us what you’re doing. Where’s it moving, where’s it going?

Where’d it come from? Where are you going to ship it out? That’s the tracking that we’re going to be on target for. Another big thing that they have is a transportation fuels assessment and then also a transition plan. And those are the two things that we’re working on. So the assessment is kind of an evaluation of the transportation fuels market. What’s going on in our market? Why did we see seven 50 a gallon? Who’s it impacting the most? We noticed that primarily lower income families, families in rural areas are less inclined to buy electric vehicles or zero emission vehicles. And that trend appears to be there’s some penetration there. In our data, we’ve been able to find that we are seeing more purchases of zero emission vehicles in zip codes where the income is a little bit lower and the wealthiest zip codes are representing a smaller share of the zero emission vehicle sales.

So that’s good news in some ways, but there’s still a lot of work for us to do ahead. And so we need to evaluate that transportation fuels market get a good sense of what’s happening. And we’re about, we was supposed to submit in January, we’re a little behind lots of stuff happening there, but we are working on trying to bring to the public a representation of what’s happening in the market and what can we do to help prevent these price spikes. And I’m sure some of you have maybe been there this morning when Drew Bowen and Laquinn Yen spoke on the transition.

It’s going to be a challenge here to make that happen. And as we have fewer suppliers and yeah, as Vincent pointed out, they might try to pivot and switch over to exporting, in which case you’re going to see communities to continue to be impacted by air pollution. On the other hand, they might shut down. Who’s going to shut down first? It sort of becomes a game of chicken. And some of the smaller refineries are likely to go down first, maybe, maybe not. Who knows what kinds of contracts are going on with each one? Some refineries, they sell more on the open market. Some refineries have long-term contracts. There’s all kinds of interesting dynamics around that, but we’re trying to bring that to the attention of folks with this assessment. And then the next thing is the transition plan. What do we do about it? How do we deal with the workforce implications of people that are working in these communities?

And at the refineries, there’s also a lot of impact on the retail side of things. We’re anticipating by 2030, about a 25% decline in gasoline sales. So six years from now, it could be that one in four gas, who knows? But it could be that one in four gas stations are now under increased pressure. They’re not selling as much as they used to, and so they’re starting to shut down. We’re not sure exactly yet, but that’s what we’re going to be trying to think about in this transition plan. How do we deal with that retail side? How do we deal with the workforce side and how do we work potentially with some of these refiners who knows exactly how to work with them? But we’re trying to think through some challenges on that front. There are options that are on the table. We’ve explored or discussed some of these.

Some of them could be sort of like a public utility model where we say, okay, you can get a little bit of profit, but you have to work with us on managing down this transition. Those are some options that are out there. They’re very difficult. They’re very complicated. We don’t have all the answers yet, but we’re hoping to get this transition study done by the end of this year. And there’s a lot to happen. It’s a big, big, big challenge. Big problem for us. We sell about 13 billion gallons of gasoline a year in this state. We represent about 10% of the entire nation’s consumption, 13 billion gallons. Just it’s massive. It’s a huge, I’d love to just say flip a switch and we’re all driving ZEVs. We want that to happen as fast as possible. We want the infrastructure in place for that to happen as soon as possible. But we are trying to turn a ship that is going to be very slow to turn because of its momentum already. And there’s a lot of folks that don’t necessarily want it to turn so quickly or at all. So it’s a challenging problem, but we’re hoping to work our way there to find some solutions here. Yeah, that’s about it.

Ilonka Zlatar (10:57):
Thank you, Quentin. I had like to now introduce our final speaker for the panel, Norman Rogers. So if you’re in the last panel, you have already heard from him a little bit, he’s a second vice president of United Steel Workers Local 6 75. This is a union representing workers that include oil, chemical bedding, car wash paper, electric bus, manufacturing, all sorts of different stuff. So we’d love to hear from Norman about his thoughts on this topic. Let’s welcome Norman.

Norman Rogers (11:41):
Thank you. I should have corrected that bio because the electric bus manufacturer, someone we no longer represent, there was a called Proterra that had approached us because if they had a unionized workforce, they had access to certain state funds. So we got a contract together, represented the workers there, helped them approach the state to get money to start up, got money from the California Energy Commission. And while a couple of years they’re operating, things are going reasonably well in that time that things were going well here. They were building a new site in South Carolina, and once that site was built, they closed down here. And one of the things that we need to watch out for as we move forward is that when we are giving out public funds, that we make sure we have claw backed language in the contracts we write because we didn’t in this case.

And so we paid for a facility in South Carolina. So along the lines of managing a transition, that’s something to keep in mind. Oh, here. So a managed transition. I’m starting with pictures of what it looks like if you don’t manage a transition. This is Youngstown, Ohio. When steel went away, this is Gary, Indiana. When steel went away, I had other pictures in another slide deck of what it looked like in the appalachias when coal mining closed up. But here’s one. This is Detroit, and this is over a series of five years. And when car manufacturing, auto manufacturing started to contract, and this is what we’re trying to avoid, I don’t think that we would see this level of deterioration here in California because it’s a worldwide destination for outside income to come in. But still in all any very, anything along these lines we don’t want to see. And while it might look like that first row of pictures, looks like everything is fine, this house here is already boarded up.

So along with that, when we’re talking about transition, there’s jobs of course, but then there’s the other aspects of what are the conversations going on in those homes, knowing what’s coming and what’s going on, what are the interactions between the husband and wife and what arguments are the kids hearing? Because something’s wrong, something’s not right, things had been good, but all of a sudden things aren’t right. So that’s another piece that needs to be captured. This picture, a couple of reasons to show this one, if you picture each one of, so first off, this is Huntington Beach about a hundred years ago, Huntington Beach, California. And if you picture each one of these oil wells, derricks, thank you. As a household, the goal is that each of these oil derricks and that collection of oil, derricks being a community, they’re set to lose their sources of income.

With that loss of sources of income, it gets to the point where it starts to affect red tax revenues, and that starts to impact teachers, fire departments, police departments, having a post soccer game, pizza, pizza party at a pizza parlor, tithing at church, all that gets impacted. So that again, is why this needs to be managed. And we’re not quite there yet with how it’s being managed. The first thing we hear typically is training. So I lose my job on Friday, I go to training on Monday. When I finish my training on that Friday, where do I go the following Monday? And we saw that that was a problem with there being graphics arts classes taught to the folks in the coal mining and coal mining communities when they lost their jobs. But it turns out there’s not a high demand for graphic artists in the appalachias. And so we’re looking to avoid that.

There’s another piece to the transition, which is this again, Huntington Beach, this, let’s see, there we go. That is a little placard or a little monument that goes with this red dot. That’s where the first oil well was drilled in Huntington Beach, California, which goes back to this picture back then, this was called Oil City. Now, Huntington Beach is known as Surf City. I’d mentioned in an earlier panel, one of the concerns moving forward is the folks that could afford to live here will never be able to afford to live here once it all gets fixed up. So when we’re talking about transition, there’s a big wide range of issues that need to be confronted. Another one is who is it that needs the transition? Who needs the help? The assistance, if we’re making moves in California to move towards electric vehicles, that sends a signal to the rest of the country because people that are making catalytic converters, people that are making carburetors, they’re seeing what’s going on here.

And they see the writing on the wall because that, I’m sorry, what was the amount of gasoline? We do a year? 13 billion. So those 13 billion gallons of gasoline need to be mixed with air so it can be burned and exploded. You don’t need engine blocks anymore, not in the way you did. So this very quickly becomes a federal issue. It becomes bigger than just the state of California, but we’re making decisions that are going to impact those folks. And so beyond that, then it ultimately becomes a ballot box issue. Because if I’ve been working making carburetors for the past 25 years and all these changes are happening in California, but I know if I stay with my carburetors, that’s where the paycheck has come from. The same with us. I work with folks at the refinery where it’s the third or fourth generation that folks have worked there. They become good paying jobs with collective bargaining over the last 200 years. And

You stay with your paycheck, you stay with your paycheck, you have to vote for that. That’s what’s put a roof over their heads, roof over our heads, food on the table. So the biggest part of a managed transition, the word transition would suggest there’s something to move to. And we haven’t seen that yet, and we don’t know what that is. So that just causes folks to claw and stay with what they know. If you’re going to insert yourself between someone and their paycheck, we need to be at least two steps ahead of that so that we can handle the questions that come up. And I’ll leave it with that.

Ilonka Zlatar (19:09):
Thank you for those thoughts. We’re going to turn it here shortly to your questions, but I think I have so many thoughts. I feel like we heard a lot of the challenges and maybe some studies that are coming, things that we’re going to be looking at. Another sort of piece that I think we’ve touched on, but perhaps not specifically talked about is the import export issue in California, right? So we can reduce our demand, reduce our supply, reduce our extraction here, yet California is refining for the Pacific, right? For countries all around the Pacific, even the Middle East, we receive a lot of imports from Saudi Arabia, from the Amazon rainforest is being deforested to get at and infringing on indigenous rights. I mean, we see that this industry likes to take advantage of vulnerable people in vulnerable situations to establish themselves. It wasn’t even two weeks since the Palestinian invasion, before the Israeli government opened up 12 new drilling exploration permits in Palestinian waters.

So just like to take a moment to remind ourselves to stand in solidarity with people who are being occupied and take advantage of by the very same companies that are also polluting our own lands here in California, check out chevron, but understanding that we can do everything within California. If we have no controls over import and export, how are we going to actually manage decline? We are basically acting as the refiners, the, let’s say, the air dumpsters for that refining that’s happening for other people around the world to use that oil. So are there any policy levers that we can pull in California to start to get at that, to limit the amount of oil that’s coming from suspicious situations all across the world that we refined here? So that’s one question that I want to post to panel. And also I wanted to touch on Norman’s comments as well that we don’t necessarily know what’s coming next, but I’d love to hear from you if you are hearing from, if you are seeing any sort of hope or are hearing from any government agencies or other organizations that are extending their handout. I mean, I would love to see a lot more labor force and labor conversations. Sorry, there’s a fly in my face happen at forms like these, but I don’t think we’ve done a great job of really talking to each other of integrating these solutions with the workers that are at the edge of that. So I’d like to pose those questions to you both and then open it up for the rest of you to ask for questions.

Quentin Gee (22:31):
Well, I think some people, so one thing that I think is really, really important points that Norman mentioned, what options do people, let’s say a refinery shuts down, you lose 500 workers or a thousand workers, or they lose their jobs. What options do they have? And I think that we need to be proactive about it, and I think that’s one of the things that we need to be thinking about a lot more. And we’re going to have stakeholder input when we’re doing the transition plan. But one thing I would say is we’re facing an electrician shortage. So the other work that we work on that I work on in particular, we’re talking about heat pumps, we’re talking about electric vehicles, fast charging stations, line upgrades, grid upgrades all over the place, substations, circuits, all kinds of things across an electric system that really is going to need some rapid growth.

There’s probably, there’s going to be more need of more of a need for that than there will be people that are leaving the workforce from these kinds of shutdowns or conversions of refineries at the same time, it’s easy for some people to say, well just go ahead and get a new job. I’ll just throw you in some training. There’s a lot of challenges with that, and we need to have those conversations, and that’s going to be a critical part. But what I can say is there are some jobs of the future out there that hopefully will be enticing for individuals and better paying and with better benefits. So that’s one of my big hopes because we are facing some critical upgrade challenges for our electricity system.

Speaker 7 (24:29):
Have you seen progress in the transition? Have you been approached by organizations?

Norman Rogers (24:36):
So there has, well, double-edged sword as all of it is in September of 2020. August of 2020, the Marathon Martinez refinery under the cloak of saying their numbers were down from Covid that the consumption had dropped, and so they weren’t producing as much. They made the decision to become a renewable diesel facility. And with that, they let loose close to 400 people and some of them bounced back and were able to find other refinery jobs. Others found jobs that didn’t pay quite as well. There wasn’t fully the parody in pay and benefits, and then others didn’t do well at all after that. And so there was a legislative push and we were able to get a displaced oil and gas worker fund. I think we won that in 2022. It’s been some time. We finally, awards were made about a month ago, five weeks ago, to help those folks that have lost their jobs already, the ones that are set to lose their jobs because the similar situation exists with Phillips 66, their rodeo facility, they’re moving to renewable diesel, and they had been fed by a site in Santa Maria via 200 miles of pipeline.

That’s where they got their crude from. So they’re no longer using crude oil. So those folks in Santa Maria have lost their jobs. The folks that operate the pipeline in between Santa Maria and the Bay, they’re looking to be out of work as well. So that $40 million, it’s good. It’s a first, and admittedly it’s a pilot program to see what can be done with it ourselves. And I believe three other entities were beneficiaries of those funds due to receive them in June and then start dispersing, well, not dispersing funds, but start doing intake, hoping to get folks with help and training they need. That’s been a bright spot. However, there’s a chaos piece to all of this, which has to do with or mentioned in the last panel, the Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery. In 2019, there was old leaking pipe, let loose, big explosion, no fatalities, thank God. But there were injuries in the form of a thousand people losing their jobs. And

That, excuse me, $40 million isn’t going to help if you have a thousand people all at once that need assistance. It’s not as black and white as all that, but that scale of problem does exist if something goes wrong and how we’re going to help with that. And then again, that it’s not just the moves we make aren’t just a California issue. I’ll use the example. If we picture an elevator that has 50 people in it and California’s in the center and we’re trying to take off a sweater, we’re throwing elbows everywhere. And that’s what we’re doing. And that’s the scope of help that we really need, not just for here in California, but across the country.

Vincent Thivierge (28:12):
I think at the beginning you mentioned about the fact that California’s oil and gas industry can contribute to environmental harm from crude extraction overseas or through exporting local air pollution here. Then we export refined petroleum product. I think the only thought that came to mind, I think if we want to avoid kind of the spillover effects of the fact that we’re connected with trading partners really emphasizes to me the importance of both demand and supply side policies. If you just target demand side policies and have all electric cars in California, then refineries can still export. If you just hamper down on refineries, and suppose you don’t have all the EVs out here, then California can still import a bunch of refined petroleum products and contribute to greenhouse gas emissions overseas. So unfortunately, I don’t know if it’s an unfortunate thing, but California doesn’t have control over demand for refined petroleum products out of state. It can only, I think, kind of legislate, I mean this is outside of my expertise, but my understanding of the world is California can regulate things in California, and that’s where if it combines both demand and supply side policies, that’s really I think where you get a lot of bang for the buck in terms of reducing the local air pollution harms here and preventing from just exporting or importing greenhouse gas emissions from overseas. But that doesn’t touch the transition. That was more about the kind of trade aspect you started on.

Ilonka Zlatar (29:44):
Do we have questions from the audience?

Speaker 8 (29:53):
Hi, my name is Andrea Leon Grossman with Road Solar and thank you. This is an excellent panel. There’s a couple of things. One is you’re all absolutely right in terms of the just transition, and there’s many, many challenges ahead of us. I think in terms of employment, we really need to be looking at places like Australia and Germany where they have been doing great with solar and really embracing renewables. They have really strong employment and labor loss in good salaries, and they are adopting renewable energy much faster than we are. So you really need to look at why they’re doing it better than we are in really emulating what they’re doing. Now, in terms of what I call greenification, which is basically what Norman is saying. It’s like if we clean up or act, how do we ensure that people can keep living where they’re living without getting poisoned by these dirty energy?

And we are actually working with a coalition called Healthy Homes to ensure that we can electrify and we can ensure a tenant protections and make sure that people don’t get displaced by clean technologies because everyone deserves to live in a healthy, clean space again. And it’s not just about health, but it’s also about safety. We are living in a seismic area, and very few people think about that as well. One thing that happened in my own family during an earthquake in Mexico City was that after the earthquake hit, rescue operations had to be seized. And my cousin who was buried inside a collapsed building

Rescue operation who was ceased for 16 hours because there were gas leaks everywhere, and by the time they got to him, he had died. And no one deserves to die that way. So I think we really need to make sure that we have energy that is not going to harm us or kill us. And that is, again, I think it’s safe and it’s healthy and it’s something that we can all work around. So again, it’s just something that is near and dear to me. I think that it’s something that we need to strive to. Thanks.

Ilonka Zlatar (32:38):
Thank you for sharing that. I’m so sorry for your loss. Does anybody want to respond to that?

Quentin Gee (32:47):
So I think mean, yeah, sorry for your loss. It’s very sad and I don’t know much about how to make sure that we are, I think there’s things in place for managing construction in California to be prepared for those kinds of events. But yeah, that’s sort of outside my area. But I would point to the California Air Resources board scoping plan when it comes to thinking about this greenification issue. I like that term. I think that kind of gets at something that we need to be careful about. But finding strong policies, I mean, the scoping plan says that we need to find strong policies, aggressive policies that are going to encourage better urban design and more active transportation.

We model the zero emission vehicles and we like zero emission vehicles, but I’d rather people live in neighborhoods where they can just walk down to the neighborhood grocery store rather than having to drive a mile or so in a zero emission vehicle. So there are some ideas around that and sort of getting the policies in alignment there and all of that. I think those are some really, there’s some good ideas in there. I think it’s in one of the appendices of the carb scoping plan. But yeah, we need to be attentive to those kinds of issues. Yeah,

Norman Rogers (34:33):
I guess the one thing I would say as far as folks losing their homes and yeah, when you said you were from Mexico City, all these images popped up. The first thing we always hear about typically, oh, there’s been an earthquake in Mexico City, and they show the destruction and you’ve put a face in a scenario to it that as sad as these bins always are, it’s become much more personal now. So yeah, I’m sorry for your loss. So folks that live outside, there was a picture that was shown of a homes just outside the refinery gate or outside the fence line, and the refinery goes away. Things get cleaned up those homes next to that refinery. If it’s the one I’m thinking of, it’s three miles from the beach. And so when it gets cleaned up, when it becomes a nice property and the property, Texas start going up, the people that have lived there for 30, 40, 50 years will no longer be able to keep their homes. And so that’s more specifically what I was speaking to as something we need to be on the watch for. So yay, we got rid of the refinery. Oh, we lost our house. That’s not a fair trade off.

I guess I’ve heard some great information and thank you so much for your contributions on the panel. I think I’ve heard a lot of challenges and things that need to be done, but maybe I’m still fuzzy on how to do them are go, here you go. Maybe could the panel give three of the most important things, or maybe the three most important agencies that advocates can target and say, you need to do these, this thing and then this thing and this thing. Is there an idea about that? So that’s one question and then maybe another that I’m not sure there’s an answer to. But the scale of the climate crisis, the catastrophe that we’re all facing, the habitability of this planet, that’s the message that science and data are telling us. And then important as well, when we talk about what I’ve heard today is great manage, transition, make sure people have their jobs, make sure they’re not out on the street.

But then I kind of think I have in the back of my mind, if my house is on fire, I’m not going to be worrying about grab all my papers, leave the house safely, don’t stub your toe, walk cautiously, like get the F out of the house. So is there some non congruence in saying we have to act as quickly and massively as possible right now and at the same time, but we have to move deliberately and make sure everyone’s lifting all boats, et cetera, and how to navigate that, maybe fully recognizing that jobs, everyone being good together, that’s exactly what is needed and necessary.

Vincent Thivierge (38:25):
I can take a stab at it. I think mean if I rely on the presentation that I gave. So I think there’s a lot of demand side of policies already to try to cut the in-state demand for refined petroleum products as people move to electric cars and whatnot. And I’m sure, as Quentin was saying, there’s probably way more that you could do with active transportation and public transit and those types of things that are going to target the demand side for fossil fuels on the supply side, I don’t actually know how old this assembly bill is, but on the supply side, there’s additional things that the state can do to, I guess what it ends up doing. It increases the operating cost of refineries and therefore make them less profitable. Maybe they shut down. So assembly bill six 17, I dunno how folks are familiar with that, but that’s going to specifically lead to the adoption of best available control technologies to cut the emissions of refineries in disadvantaged communities.

So I think this is after the fact that we talked about this in the previous panel, that regulators realize that after the California cap and trade emissions at refineries are still going up, and it’s a messy world. They might be not as high as they would be otherwise, but they’re still going up. So that’s where the state, I think, put in place AB six 17 WS is going to hamper down more on emissions. So I think those types of initiatives, the fact that some of these counties are still in non-attainment based on local air quality standards, actually achieving those air quality standards is going to raise the cost of operation in these refineries. And I think that that’s, to me, the policy levers that already exist. The national air quality standards are a thing, and doing more of that is going to work

Quentin Gee (40:24):
Oh, well, I guess, I mean, I think that’s right. I mean, it’s hard to control exports. There’s constitutional provisions that kind of make that really hard to do, but it’s possible to control imports a little bit more and best available control technology, those kinds of things. That’s kind of outside of my scope of how we think about things, but it strikes me as logical pathways.

Ilonka Zlatar (40:57):
And I guess I could wrap it up with saying our approach is try to hit the fossil fuel industry at every angle everywhere so that it doesn’t make sense for them to continue operating, hit them everywhere all at once. And with that, I want to thank our panel and all of you for your attention and your great questions. As we know, this is not something that we can solve on our own, and we need each other and we need to have these conversations. So I do appreciate the climate center’s leadership and bringing us together so that we can start these conversations. Of course, this is beginning, right? We are making new relationships here. We are getting to know each other, and I invite each of you to follow up on them and to become involved and to keep these conversations going in the future. So thank you.

Speaker 11 (41:52):
Thanks everybody.