Transcript: Oil & Gas Extraction in California – Managing the Decline (CA Climate Policy Summit 2024)

Please note that the transcript provided below is AI-generated and intended for reference. It may contain missing words, misspellings, or other small errors. To request a correction or clarification, please contact

Woody Hastings (00:13:52):
Well, hello everybody. Thanks for coming to this breakout session, this track on fossil fuel phase out. We’re just going to give it a, I’m Woody Hastings with the Climate Center and I’m just going to give it a few minutes for other folks to filter in from downstairs. So in just a couple minutes we’ll get started. Thanks.

Okay, I think I’d like to get started pretty much on time so our speakers have the ample opportunity to share what they have to share with us today. So again, my name’s Woody Hastings, I’m the phase out polluting fuels program manager for the climate center and I love my title Lengthy though it is. And thanks all for coming again to this track. This track if you were here this morning, we had a little bit of a teaser of the subject, which is a managed transition away from the fossil fuel era, right? Getting out of this and getting to a new clean energy economy that centered in labor. And we had that teaser in the panel this morning with Laquinn Ewen and Drew Bowen and Catherine Garoupa. And then we had some discussion from the campaign for Safe and Healthy California, which we’ll hear about a bit more here this morning.

And this track, if you stay for the whole track, we’re starting off with extraction, pulling the oil and gas out of the ground and how we extract ourselves from that, manage our way out of that. And then the follow-up session starting at two 40 is on refining And again, how do we ramp down decommission refineries and do it in a labor friendly, equitable way and clean up the mess that’s left behind as it is with attractive industries. And finally sort of tying it all together, the third one will be tying it all together with managed transition, your computer thing, managed transition for the third one that starts at goes from four to five. So I hope you can stay with us for the entire session and without any further. Oh, one thing I do want to say is that we are recording this session and so it is important the recording only works if you speak into the mic when we get to the q and a session and there is a mic stand set up back there.

So if you have a question, please do get up, ask your question, and please no long speeches, just ask a question and then it’ll be recorded for the record. And without any further ado, I do want to introduce our moderator for the panel, Jasmine Vasin from the Sierra Club. As a campaign representative with the Sierra Club’s Beyond Dirty Fuels campaign, Jasmine’s focus is to bring about a just transition plan to manage the decline of existing oil production in California while enacting protections for impacted workers, communities and economies. And I just want to add that Jasmine was quoted, if you haven’t seen the LA Times this morning, check it out, read it online, whatever, pick up a copy extensively, substantive comments on the merger of ERA and CRC two of the biggest drillers in the state, $2.1 billion proposed merger and what the repercussions of that could be. So kudos to Jasmine for rocking it at the LA Times and Jasmine, come on up and she’ll introduce the panelists.

Jasmine Vasin (00:19:00):
Alright. Hi everyone again, my name is Jasmine Vasine with the Sierra Club. Thanks so much for being here in our breakout session talking about oil and gas extraction in the contact line. We’ve got a great panel of speakers here today that I have the privilege of working with on this idu. We’ve got Jason from Center Biological Diversity, campaigner, that group, Kayla staff attorney with Center for Race, poverty in the Environment, and Luis Martinez. And so we all are going to be talking about different pieces of this puzzle really we even get from where we are now to where we need to be out the transition.

I’m going to do a little bit of background and then kick it over to Kayla to talk about local municipalities can really get involved in this issue. But overall, contrary to popular belief, I think the popular image of California is that we’re an environmental policy leader, a climate leader, but our state has historically been one of the largest oil. We are the fifth largest global economy and we also used to lead the nation in oil production with cities in Los Angeles and Kern Counties built on top of thousands. And currently the state is seventh in the nation for production and there’s around a little over a hundred million barrels. We know that fossil fuel production and use is the leading cause of no from the state’s own climate goals that are aimed at full carbon neutrality by 2045 that we have to address the transit within the next 20.

But again, how do we get from where we are now to a place where the entire industry is issued into new systems that offer well paying jobs for folks who have been working in this space as well as energy for all of California in the next to us. It starts with ending neighborhood over 5 million Californians, one mile of an oil or gas well, which is a distance that we know from the state’s own health panel is proved to cause chronic health effects and generational impacts that will impact folks in these well into add insult to injury. These oil wells are often located predominantly and can be already overburdened by other environmental pollutants like air pollution from traffic, meaning that folks living on the fence line of these oil wells are having their lives cut short by the overlay of multiple system justice that target communities.

And not only are oil wells actively pumping for oil impacting our communities, but a looming crisis already impacting. So many cities in California are inactive oil wells that are sitting unplugged right outside of homes, parks, hospitals, and other places where oil wells are ticking time bombs of risk in perpetuity. But when left unplugged, these inactive wells not only are risk to human health and safety, but also to our state’s own. It’s estimated that about 70% of oil wells are constantly leaking, volatile organic compounds, which we know cause cancer, but also methane, the atmosphere around them. And methane is four times more warming in the atmosphere than dioxide. And so if we’re going to meaningfully discuss climate action in California, inactive or idle oil wells absolutely have to be a part of this conversation. And the reason a lot of us on this panel are thinking about this and working around this now is because these wells are part of a growing trend that we’re seeing in the state of California where large oil companies are selling off these inactive wells to companies or hedge funds that don’t have the money to actually clean them up.

And then these companies file for bankruptcy to shirk off their responsibility for cleaning up these wells, leaving them what is called an orphan. There are over 5,000 orphaned wells already in California and all of these inactive wells can cost anywhere from 200,000 to over a million dollars to cleanup, which is an exorbitant cost that should not even be on the table for taxpayers to, but if nothing is done and state policy doesn’t change within the short term, these companies will do everything in their power to leave Californians on the hook to pay the billions of dollars it will, it’s in the wrong place, but or without us in the environmental policy realm. California’s oil industry is in the deacon barrels of oil produced in the state, has been on a steady decline over the last 30 years. And the state’s oil reserves are estimated to reach the end of their natural life by 2040. So the time is now to urgently ensure that taxpayers are not left with the bill to clean up what this industry leaves behind as the state transition away from fossil fuel.

Yeah, we know exactly which companies have fueled this crisis, which companies fund astroturfing groups to reverse any policy wins that we make here in California, which companies have known about fossil fuel induced global warming since the 1950s. And it’s time to be specific. Chevron Era energy, California Resource Corporation, WSPA, these are all companies that have performed in bad faith against the good of all Californians and they must be held accountable for what their extraction and profiteering has wrought in our state and ensure that we have to ensure that polluters are paying to clean up their California is taking steps to take on this industry like never before in 2024 with things like our governor’s lawsuit against the industry for their role in climate change. Our state policies like AB 1167 and SB 1137, as well as some bills you’re going to hear more about later in this session.

But overall, we have to be clear that those who have made billions through extraction of California’s resources should be the ones on the hooks that they leave behind with their legacy of pollution. To wrap up my section before I turn it over to Kayla on the note of being specific, I want to bring into this conversation something that’s vitally important when talking about this industry with a note that these are my and our panelists, personal views and not the views of our organizations. These large companies that have profited off the extraction of California’s resources are also the same companies fueling the climate crisis across the globe. Chevron, the largest owner of the inactive wells that I mentioned in California is also the company responsible for drilling off the coast of Palestine with permits from an occupying government. We cannot win on climate action here in California if we are not addressing the drivers for climate change outside of our state that our tax dollars are funding.

We have a major budget shortfall in 2024 in California that will cut into critical climate investments, yet Californians send a blank check every year of over $600 million through our federal taxes to the Israeli government when that money could be used to help our state tackle the climate crisis, help Californians pay rent, manage wildfires, or address any of the complex climate and social issues that we are facing. So if we want to have a conversation about the future of a managed decline, we have to call for a ceasefire, a divestment from oppression and the investment of our tax dollars to our frontline communities here at home. Thank you. I’m going to turn it over to Kayla to talk through a awesome story about how local folks and Kayla our slides got.

Kayla Karimi (00:27:16):
Hello everyone. Thank you Jasmine. So as Jasmine touched on, there are many health effects our communities feel from inactive, orphaned and idle wells, including respiratory issues, pregnancy issues, cancer, and a myriad of other issues. And these issues are extremely pervasive, especially for wells that are close to sensitive receptors such as homes, churches, schools, anywhere, people congregate. So it’s difficult to escape. And I wanted to give a story to really ground us in the realities of what these communities face and how it can affect not only their health but also their entire livelihoods. So some of you may be aware of this Arvin Nelson court story, but if you’re not started about 10 years ago in the community of Arvin, specifically on Nelson Court where a community started to smell a smell for several months they were smelling the smell and actually the trees in their backyard stopped bearing fruit.

And one community member in particular, Vera, she in her home, when you typically go to plug something in there might be a spark. When she went to plug something in, there’d be a flame. So she was very concerned and on top of this, her daughter at the time was pregnant and experiencing fainting spells. So she was extremely concerned and called the gas company and they sent over a technician and they measured the pressure levels and he said the pressure levels are completely normal, there shouldn’t be a problem, but he could smell a smell too. So he knew there was something else going on as well. So Alvera contacted her local EJ advocates, her environmental justice advocates that she knew of through that line, CRPE was contacted and soon the fire department was contacted and the fire department came over for and found that there was in fact an extreme leak actually at extremely explosive levels.

And so soon, eight homes and dozens of people were evacuated. Those folks were evacuated from Arvin, moved to Bakersfield where did not return to their homes for nine months. During that time, the county did an investigation and they hired an independent lab to see what was going on. And in fact, there were pipes underneath these homes, unknown pipes, and the lab concluded that the soil would not come back to normal levels, it was contaminated and would not be back to normal levels for 50 years. So the county’s solution to get people back into their homes was to put, give each home a filtration system, which sounds good. However, the energy costs were so high, people could not afford to plug it in, so they would simply just not.

And with this community members began to realize that their biggest investment, their retirement investment, their home that they put so much money and investment in relied on was the value was decimated. And as to no fault of their own, they had no idea to know, of course to pollution of others. And one of the reasons they had no idea to know is that California at the time had no requirement to map pipes under a certain size, oil and gas pipes that were underground and there was no requirement to check or maintain them. But from this came some action, one of those being AB 1420 that passed the following year in 2015 to require all future piping of any size to be mapped and to be checked and maintained, which was an important step forward. And it also pushed the Arvin community to create an ordinance for setbacks. So 350 foot setbacks were passed in the Arvin community, the first setbacks in California, and it led to a bit of the inspiration for statewide sex backs with 1137. And I tell this story because good steps were made, but communities continue to suffer. And this needs to be at the forefront of our mind as we think about a managed decline as these oil and gas wells and piping age, how we’re going to deal with it and keeping communities in the forefront of our mind during this managed decline. Thank you.

Jason Pfeifle (00:32:29):
Alright. Hi everyone. Good to see some familiar faces here. Let me adjust the microphone. I, all right. So we heard from Kayla about the problem about local action to address neighborhood drilling. And I’m sure this is a familiar the story that many of you are familiar with. But in 2019, multiple coalitions formed vission and Last Chance Alliance to push statewide policy demands to address California’s oil problem. And those demands, specifically calling on the governor were to stop permits for new oil and gas wells to end oil drilling in neighborhoods and to phase out oil and gas extraction altogether. ION has been laser focused on winning a statewide setback to protect communities from oil and gas pollution and with lots of success. We heard about SB 1137, that was an absolutely game changing law. And last Chance Alliance has been focused on all three of those policy goals. And this past year, 2023 last year was really a game changing year and a watershed year for us to turn the tide and to really supercharge the transition away from oil and gas.

There we go. Alright. So as you can see here, with respect to stopping oil and gas permits, last year was huge. Only 24 new oil and gas wells were approved in 2023 and zero. New wells have been approved thus far this year, and that is, it’s hard to overstate how big of a deal that is. When Newsome first took office, thousands of new wells were approved that first year in 2021 and 20 22, 500 new drilling permits were approved each year, and now it’s down to zero, which yes, I mean, just unbelievable. And the ingredients for success here were really the campaigning by both coalitions ION and Last Chance Alliance and combining that with multiple lawsuits to block oil and gas regulators from rubber stamping permits to drill. And just a couple of weeks ago, there was a major legal win to stop Kern County’s oil permitting scheme. If Kern County had gotten its permitting authority back, we could have seen a tidal wave of new permits and that didn’t happen. And now Kern County has to go back to the drawing board with their oil and gas ordinance. And so all the focus really remains on Cal as the oil and gas regulator to get them to continue to do their job, to follow their duty to protect public health and our climate.

Now, this progress, stopping new wells is not the whole story. As you can see from this chart, there has been the rate of approving permits to re-drill or rework oil wells has remained at a steady pace. And the most concerning part of that is last year, the number of rework permits that were approved near communities while SB 1137, California’s historic health buffer law is on hold. And that kind of gets me into the next part of this presentation. This is such a monumental fight this year. I think as folks know, there is a referendum on the ballot to overturn California’s life-saving health buffer law. The oil industry spent millions of dollars to put this referendum on the ballot to overturn the law. And it is going to take a monumental effort to win the campaign to protect the law. And again, this is so, so massive. I mean, as a statewide referendum, this will be the biggest oil campaign we’ve ever seen in California. It is nationally and globally significant in the fight to end fossil fuels. And the campaign for a Safe and healthy California is leading the charge to defeat the oil industry’s referendum and to protect the health and safety buffer law, which is absolutely critical for the exact reasons that the Kayla mentioned.

There are also huge opportunities in the legislature this year to make polluters pay. So one of those bills is an idle well cleanup bill AB 1866 by Assembly member Heart, which would require oil companies to clean up their idle wells at a much faster rate than what’s currently happening right now. I think as some people know currently oil companies can just pay a tiny fee to keep their wells idle forever. And this bill would change that. It eliminates the idle well fee, it eliminates that system and instead requires oil companies to plug significant portions of their idle wells each year. So the largest operators, the largest oil companies, oil companies like Chevron would have to plug and clean up 20% of their idle wells per year. This is really, really huge. It’s work that needs to happen. And it’s also a bill that not only protects our climate, not only protects public health but would also create jobs. There are lots of jobs in remediating idle wells and those jobs and the job creation that comes from that is a critical piece of an equitable transition away from fossil fuels. And in fact, this bill is being heard in committee right as we speak in the assembly natural resources. So fingers crossed it passes.

And then the other bill is one that is really focused on making fossil fuel companies pay for the climate damage they’ve done in California for decades. The fossil fuel industry has externalized their pollution costs while profiting from their polluting products. And because of that, the cost of extreme weather events, climate disasters, that’s fallen on the public. And so this bill, SB 1497 by Senator Men Hvar would change that. What it would do is assess a fee to fossil fuel companies for their past greenhouse gas emissions and then the funds collected through those fees would go into a program and it would pay for projects to mitigate climate harms. This is another really, really critical piece of the transition that needs to happen away from fossil fuels, making fossil fuel companies pay for the climate damage they’ve done while also funding the projects that need to happen to ensure that communities are protected and that the costs of climate disasters are not falling on the public. So with that, I’m going to stop. I’m going to turn things over to Louise who has another important bill to talk about. Oh yes. And Woody wants me to remind you that campaign for Safe and Healthy California has a table downstairs. If you haven’t stopped at that table, please do. Louis is also going to get into some other things that you can do to take action with respect to these bills. So over to Luis.

Luis Martinez (00:40:58):
Alright, thanks Jason for that. Hi everybody again, my name is Luis Martinez with Foster Free California. I’m the campaigns organizer. I use he him pronouns. Let’s see. Alright, so my colleagues did an amazing job at really detailing the many aspects around oil and gas extraction. And I think it’s really a sort of great way to set the stage for me to talk about fossil fuel divestment today, specifically regarding Senate Bill 2 5 2. And so I really see divestment as a path forward to fossil fuel phase out and taking power away from the fossil industry that they’ve had in this state for decades now. And so, not to get too caught up in the background here, since a lot of great background was covered, but just a couple of quick points to mention regarding this. Bill CalPERS and Cal Stairs are two of the main pensions in California. CalPERS representing state workers retirement benefits for state workers and CALSTRS representing retirement benefits for teachers. And they collectively invest over $14 billion in the top 200 fossil fuel companies. And so studies have shown that they’ve been losing retiree dollars over the past 10 years. They actually have lost 10 billion as a result of not divesting from the fossil fuel industry.

And so they invest in an industry that’s the leading cause of climate change that pollutes low-income, communities of color, and that risks and loses worker dollars, retiree dollars, dollars that folks have worked so hard to earn. Right? And so Senate Bill 2 5 2 is really a great progressive legislation. It was authored by Senator Lena Gonzalez and it would require that both pensions divest away from fossil fuels by the top, from the top 200 fossil fuel companies by 2030. And so divestment really makes it harder for fossil fuel companies to operate once again further taking away their power that they’ve had in the state. And so SB 2 52 currently has passed its house of origin in the Senate last year and it is now in the assembly and it needs to pass the Public Employment Retirement Committee in the assembly for hit to hit the assembly floor for a vote. Hopefully get enough votes from assembly members to pass that vote and get onto the governor’s desk for a sign-on our research team at Fossil free California has really created this amazing and innovative mapping tool showing all of the wells that CalPERS and calsters has funded. And so this includes active wells, this includes idle wells, plugged wells and new wells. And it turns out that the total of these wells is well over 96,000.

And so to use this tool, I think it’s an amazing tool to check out. So please do so. It’s on our website, fossil free And at the bottom left have in corner of this map is our legend. And so red dots represent active wells under the purrs and SIRS portfolio. Blue squares representing idle wells, black dots representing plugged wells, and finally purple diamonds representing new wells. And at the bottom right hand corner, there’s a layers portion where you could hide any of the wells. You could show school sites that neighbor these wells. You can show petroleum refineries that are under the CalPERS and Kors portfolio. You could even demonstrate, you could even show a 3,200 foot buffer zone between wells and community sites and schools. And then you can see, you can activate an assembly district’s layer that show your assembly district where you live.

And so you can also type in the address that you live in on our search bar on the top right hand corner of this map. And so I’m from Los Angeles, I’m an LA based organizer. And so I could really speak to the conditions in LA in particular as it regards to oil drilling and fossil fuel practices. And I really want to demonstrate the power of this map by taking a look at the community where I’m from. And I grew up in Wilmington, which is part of LA City Council District 15, which encompasses San Pedro Harbor City and Watts and including Wilmington. And so I activated here the school sites layer, which shows a couple of the schools within my community, elementary, middle, and high schools, public schools. And these are some of the active and idle wells that CALPRS and CALSTRS fund that are in my community.

And this doesn’t even encompass all of the oil wells in my neighborhood. My neighborhood is completely peppered with hundreds of wells. We’re surrounded by five refineries. We neighbor the Port of Los Angeles and we see a lot of air pollution. We have one of the worst air quality indexes in the nation, and a lot of folks suffer from negative health impacts, right in the form of asthma, chronic headaches, bloody noses, cancer, birth defects even, and so on. And so if we activate one of the layers showing 3,200 feet buffer zone, we can see that these wells that CALPRS and CALSTRS funds are well within 3,200 feet of residential areas and homes. And they’re well within this school right here, which is Wilmington Park Elementary. They’re well within 3,200 feet of these sensitive receptors. And they’re even well within 3,200 feet of that school, which is Georgia Lare Elementary. And I actually attended Georgia Lare Elementary. So this map really shows a reality of the folks on the front lines of drilling have known for decades now.

And so if you visit our MAP tool, please take action with us. Please urge your assembly member to support a fossil fuel divestment from pensions. There’s that take action button. It sends you to a letter to your assembly member. It generates a letter urging your assembly member to support Senate bill 2 5 2. And if you type in your zip code, it just sends it directly to your assembly member. So again, this is a map. So please check it out and please support the bill to send a letter to your assembly member. And so there’s over 34 unions that support Senate Bill 2 5 2, just these are some here on the board just to name a few. They represent over 470,000 Californians. And so there’s United Teachers of Los Angeles, California Nurses Association, California Federation of Teachers, afscme, California.

And so I think one of the things that we’ve been doing a really good job at regarding this bill is building multi-community coalitions, comprising of union leaders, folks who receive these pensions or who are going to retire and receive these pensions, teachers, youth, and frontline communities of color. And so teachers have really been at the forefront of creating these types of coalitions, these multi-generational, multiracial, and multi-community coalitions for divestment. Again, with unions, students and frontline community members. Youth continuously are leading actions. They’re continuously putting pressure on decisionmakers. We have a really close relationship with the youth organization known as Youth versus Apocalypse. And they’ve really been pivotal in creating relationships with other teacher unions like the California Teachers Association. They’ve been really pivotal in building those relationships. And then of course, frontline communities are at the center of organizing for fossil fuel, phase out fossil fuel divestments since they’re resilient to these impacts, right?

They’ve been exposed to these impacts, but they’re resilient. And so how can you support, you can help support this bill by first of all, sending a letter to your assembly member, building solidarity for divestment within unions, youth and frontline community members, getting in contact with us, seeing how we could work together to then collaborate and sign-ons and actions collaborating with us in community outreach and phone calling decision makers and tabling events, community outreach, tabling events. And then we could continue to mobilize pressure, right? Meeting with your assembly members, meeting with ’em, gathering support, signatures and phone calling your assembly members. And so we have a couple of actions that we’ve talked about so far. So again, foster three to write a letter to your assembly member, urging them to support the divestment bill SB 2 52. And then of course there’s AB 1866 idle. Well cleanup, mobilizing your members in support of the bill of course, and then checking out the table for the campaign for a Safe and healthy California and see how organization can support.

Speaker 8 (00:50:27):
Thank you everybody.

Jasmine Vasin (00:50:40):
All right. Thanks to all of our panelists for this amazing talk. We’re going to go into our Q & A session. So like Woody said earlier, there’s a mic in the back in middle of the room. If you do have a question, please feel free to get up and ask directly into the mic so we can record your question. For folks who aren’t here today, and maybe we did such a good job that nobody has questions, but we’ll wait.

Speaker 9 (00:51:16):
It was an amazing panel. I really enjoyed your information. My name is Andrea Leon Grossman. I’m with both Solar. A question I have is that how would you save off all these efforts to kill squa moving forward in terms of environmental impact reports, especially as we tackle also the housing crisis. I know there’s a bunch of bills trying to streamline the permits. And I’m also in LA.

Jasmine Vasin (00:52:21):
Organizations and community members being very vigilant and getting involved in groups in your community to show up to the meetings, looking at these proposals and being very vocal about what you would like to see is very important. Like Los Angeles has plans on the table now for how to move forward with the Inglewood oil field. And one of the kind of proposals on the table is housing. And so really having folks showing up to the board of supervisors meetings, having folks show up to the county when they’re hearing these proposals and showing up and making sure that they’re hearing from folks on the ground of what we want to see is really important. On the other hand though, litigation is also very important. And so like Jason mentioned in Kern County, the recent win where the county was trying to put an EIR in place that could blanket approve oil wells into the future was halted because we won on Qua. So yeah, I don’t know if anybody, any of the other panelists would like to add more context to the Kern fight.

Kayla Karimi (00:53:44):
I can just add that CRPE was part of that case that has been going on for many years and it went to appeal even though we won at the lower level. So I’m very grateful that we won again, but it was a hard one fought, so they’re definitely throwing everything at us with qua with oil and gas. But I am heartened that we can continue to win these fights that this has created good law and also heartened as Jason was messing vast continues and fighting SE bills.

Speaker 10 (00:54:45):
Thank you so much for such a wonderful presentation. I had a follow up question about the AB 1886 and in particular when you were talking about creating jobs, especially in the cleanup and that being part of the equitable transition, I’m just really curious to know, given all of the concerns, are we at all concerned about the health impact of those jobs? Because we’re talking about cleaning up areas that obviously have some major health concerns. And so my name is Flo, I’m with public health advocates, and I’m just kind of trying to think about what do we know and are there adequate protections in place to make sure that we’re not offering decent paying jobs, but of course in the future then having the health impact of having done some of the cleanup and just, are there some ways that has already been addressed or are those still questions remain to be seen?

Speaker 8 (00:55:39):
How about Jason?

Jason Pfeifle (00:55:47):
Yeah, thank you for that question. I mean, I think the first thing I would say in response is that those a potential for health harms are there with the unplugged wells like right now. And so those are a direct threat to communities near those unplugged wells. And I really appreciate your question though. Jobs that would be created through that bill would be through requiring oil companies to plug their own idle wells. So in that scenario, oil companies would use their existing workforce or contract with companies that specifically do remediation work. And so ensuring that there’s proper workplace safety is absolutely critical. But the bill is very narrowly focused on requiring the oil companies to plug their idle wells. Yeah. So I hope that answers your question. Did anyone else want to jump in on this question? Okay, next question. Alright, just,

Speaker 11 (00:57:02):
Hi, sorry. My name is Juan Pablo and I work for a land Trust in the Bay Area. And we’ve been pretty successful in adopting land use policies conducive to conservation. Allied groups were dealt a bit of a setback with the recent Supreme California state Supreme decision banning, I guess local jurisdictions like counties from banning oil and gas wells. I’m wondering what is your recommendation for, I guess, the most efficient way to go about advocating for not doing these sorts of activities? I can see one organize around specific projects or two, try and invest everything with these state level bills and stuff that are already in the works right now. Is there some other alternative that we should be pursuing?

Jason Pfeifle (00:57:56):
Yeah, I can take this question too. So yeah, thank you for this question as well. Yeah, so a little bit of context. I think probably many folks know the California Supreme Court overturned part of Measure Z. Measure Z was a voter approved measure in Monterey County to ban fracking a new oil wells. The Supreme California Supreme Court overturned part of it. And since then, oil companies have been weaponizing that decision to put a chilling effect on local governments for moving forward in regulating and restricting oil and gas operations in their jurisdictions. This is a problem, it’s something that needs to be addressed. I think local action to protect communities from oil and gas pollution is a critical part of the solution set that we need. And fortunately, assembly member Addis, who represents the Monterey area, has introduced a bill. It’s AB 3, 2, 3, 3. And what that bill would do is affirm the right of local governments to regulate oil and gas operations in their jurisdictions. So it clarifies that that is an existing right of local governments to do so, and it helps protect, it would help protect local democracy from these attacks. So I think the next step forward is hopefully we can pass that bill to protect local action to, to restrict and regulate oil and gas operations in local jurisdictions as well.

Speaker 12 (00:59:50):
Hi there. My name’s Saad. I’m curious about for some of these upcoming bills, what can be done to sort of deter or reduce the likelihood that fossil fuel companies won’t just run another referendum or another lawsuit and kind of just this endless battle of them having their much larger money against environmental movements money?

Jason Pfeifle (01:00:11):
That’s a big question. Someone else want to take it? Okay. Yeah, thanks Luis.

Luis Martinez (01:00:27):
I think what’s important in that is once some of these really good bills get passed is continuing to stay on them and making sure that they’re regulated and enforced and funded the way that they should be and really trying to get ahead of the fossil fuel industry. I know that regarding the referendum for SB 1137, they ran immediately responded with a really shady petition campaign where they were telling folks that if they signed this petition, it would lower gas prices and that wasn’t the case. And so they garnered enough signatures from community members, like low income community members who can’t afford gas right now, and they issued that they got this referendum put on the ballot. And so I think really taking organizing to the next step by getting ahead of the fossil fuel industry by continuing to make sure that your bills that pass are enforced the way that they should be and continuously getting community members involved, getting the coalitions with unions and youth that folks are building involved by getting ahead of sort of the fossil fuel propaganda machine and organizing so that something like that doesn’t happen. Again, educating folks on, Hey, that petition isn’t on gas prices, it’s on putting a referendum on this great bill that was passed and trying to overturn this law, this California law. And so I think good organizing is really getting ahead of that.

I think just to add to what Louis said, last year we were able to pass AB SB four one, AB 4 21, which was a bill that was specifically targeted at reforming the referendum system. So I think we can expect the oil industry to continue to try to use these tactics, but that bill specifically requires that on the ballot it lists the top three companies that funded any referendum. It makes the language very clear. I don’t know if y’all have voted on ballot measures in the past, but they can be really confusing. And so with AB 4 21 now, it has to be very clear whether a vote is to uphold or overturn a law. And so I think pursuing bills like that can help in this case. But I think also, just to elevate what you said, Louise, we have to win in the court of public opinion against these industries and have to keep showing up and outbeat their narrative because they will throw all of their money into campaigns that are lying blatantly lying to the public. And we can definitely still expect that in the future.

Jason Pfeifle (00:01:12):
And I think I would just add too, this is the exact reason it’s so important to win the referendum, right? It’s like we have to win a bid to show that this tactic is a win for industry.

Speaker 3 (00:01:44):
Hi, I am Janet Cox from Climate Action California. So I was harassing Woody a little earlier about really getting started on the referendum campaign soon. And I know there’s a sense that people aren’t necessarily paying attention now, but if the groups that really want all in on this, however many of us there are, I know that the list of supporting organizations is longer than your leg on the website, but it was easy to just sign up. But if the folks who really want in could get together and start planning a kind of roadmap from here to November, I think we just can’t afford to miss any opportunities because as we know, oil and gas are going to be coming after this with everything they’ve got. And all we’ve got is our ability to organize. So please, let’s start right away. Let’s not wait until the 4th of July or Labor Day. I mean, come on. They’re not waiting and we shouldn’t wait. Thank you.

Speaker 4 (00:03:00):
Just a 2 cents on that. I believe our public platform, I’m not doing our referendum work with CRPE, but I believe that’s going to be launched Friday. So if y’all are waiting with bated breath, just so y’all know.

Speaker 5 (00:03:22):
Hello. That’s loud. Thank you everybody. My name’s Jake Silver, I’m with Sustainability Service Corps, AmeriCorps fellowship program. Just curious, when it comes to oil production, it’s great to see that permits are reducing, leases are reducing what’s preventing folks in the state from importing their oil. Is that part of the discussion at all? And then kind of a completely separate question maybe for Luis on the divestment bill, what are people saying when it comes to, I guess, their confidence in the stock market, especially when oil and gas tends to be profitable or something that’s sort of safer that people have latched onto? Thanks.

Luis Martinez (00:04:16):
I think what I can speak to in regards to that is that the reality is that CalPERS and Calsters have lost 10 billion in the past 10 years as a result of their investments in the fossil fuel industry. And so I think its profitability, especially at this point in time, is questionable, very questionable. And those are dollars that retirees earned by working. And so I think really pivoting the conversation to what’s good for the retirees that you represent. And currently it shows that investments in these industries aren’t profitable. They aren’t keeping folks pension safe. They’re really risking them and they’re losing them, and they’re financing a dying industry. That’s the leading cause of climate change and that’s polluting community. So I think that’s what I could say to that for sure.

Jasmine Vasin (00:05:14):
What about importing

Question? Yeah, yeah. Just to add to that and to add Luis, what you’re saying, just to give an example that Woody mentioned, I talked about in the LA Times today, we’ve seen how this industry really isn’t the moneymaking market that it used to be like with era energy selling off twice in the span of one year and devaluing over 50% in that one year from 4 billion to $2 billion is evidence to the fact that this industry is not a moneymaking market that maybe the past narrative has been. And I think to the point on imports, again, California has very stringent aggressive climate goals in place to be completely carbon neutral by 2045. So again, we have to transition this industry in the next 20 years. And so we are going to be moving towards less fossil fuels, like less extraction, but also less use overall. And so yes, we still have to figure out all the pieces between now and that 2045 mark, but usage will continue to go down. Production is already going to go down with or without us. And so that’s kind of how I see the issue.

Julia May (00:07:02):
Julia May from Communities for a Better Environment. I just want to let you know there are community members who are organizing on the referendum right now, like Communities for a Better Environment in Wilmington, Los Angeles area that’s heavily hit by oil drilling, civic engagement, phone calling happening, and also stand LA a lot. But I appreciate what you said about we need a lot more organizing around this. I’m going to talk next about oil refineries and I just wanted to say there’s a real connection between the oil drilling supply and the oil refinery supply and oil drilling, even though it needs a lot more is further along on phase out than oil refineries that has almost nothing on phase out. So we have to attend to both. I didn’t know if you thought about those issues as well.

Jason Pfeifle (00:08:12):
Yeah, go to the next panel. But I mean, just to say that I completely agree. I think there’s really important work done on refinery phase out during scoping plan to bring that to the forefront of the conversation. And as we move forward here, we need to figure out how the transition is coordinated between a phase out for extraction and refining. So thank you for lifting that up. Julia.

Speaker 9 (00:08:42):
One more question in terms of divestment, I think it’s important of course to divest from pension plans, but also in terms of how the fossil fuel industry has penetrated academia or I call it academia because we have, for instance, soca Gas is sponsoring all these sustainability plants at the uc system. I have been at UC Irvine, UC Riverside. They actually have SoCal Gas stickers on their windows and all of a sudden they’re promoting biogas and all kinds of false solutions. So I don’t know if there’s any plans to divest at that point as well because of course they sponsor all this research that conveniently finds that gas is good or whatever. So I think that’s one important thing. And then the other thing, also other really dangerous substances associated with oil drilling. In my neighborhood, we had a MER captain spill that was really toxic and I could barely breathe. My dog had bloody diarrhea for a whole week and it could be smelled in a five mile radius, and that was just one gallon of mercaptan. And we never got a report back in terms of how many mayor, captain operations we have in LA in addition to hydrofluoric acid and a bunch of other substances that go hand in hand with drilling. So I think that’s also something that we need to find out and ensure that we dispose of correctly.

Luis Martinez (00:10:18):
I think nothing really speaks louder to combat fossil fuel lies louder than testimony from community members. And I think the bills that have been passing in California really are voice community stories. The call for SB 1137 to have setbacks between sensitive receptors in communities like people’s homes where they work and their schools between themselves and between oil drilling really came from their experiences and the negative health impacts that they were subjected to as a result from living near drilling, living near refineries also. And I think legitimate science really uplifts the reality that community members see every day. And so I actually have created curriculum in the past educating folks on the impacts on the gases that emit from idle wells on the impacts that that has on folks living in near idle wells, near active wells on the front lines of drilling. And so I’ve created curriculum in the past showing this that’s also backed by science set up lift this also. Thanks.

Speaker 2 (00:11:32):
Do you want to flag? We have one minute left in the session. So yeah, one more question and then we’ll have to wrap

Norman Rogers (00:11:37):
Up. Okay. So Norman Rogers, USW Local 6 75 located down in Carson. A statement more than a question, but I don’t know if everyone knows it probably goes back about five years ago, but the end product came out in December of 2022, and that was a joint project between LA County and LA City. A just transitioned task force for handling orphaned and abandoned wells. And there’s still a ton of work left to do, but of course, and a path has been laid out. And what’s really nice about it is that there was a large number everybody we could think of that should be at the table, was at the table, whether it was the native tribes building trades as a union, ourselves as a union, folks from the city, folks from the county

Currently Stan, there’s money there to move things along. We’ll have to see if things get bogged down in lawsuits and monies disappear. But right now it looks good. And then also with that is the aftermath of what it really means in full view workers that are going to lose their jobs. Ideally they move into cleaning up wells and after that there’s training for them to go into other things. But then also what happens once the sites are cleaned up, this is my own personal paranoia, is that these homes are located now where the drills are drilling takes place once they’re cleaned up. It’s going to be something that people that live there now can’t afford to stay in. And that’s another piece that needs to be looked at with all this.

Jasmine Vasin (00:13:33):
Thank you. I think that’s a great comment to end on. If y’all haven’t checked out the LA Justice and Task force’s materials, I think it’s a really great example of how we can come together to tackle the issue of well remediation. But that is the end of our panel in our session. Thank you all so much for participating and for the great questions. Definitely come find us at the reception if you want to talk more, but thank you all so much.

Woody Hastings (00:14:04):
Well, thanks again everybody for joining us and thanks Jasmin and the panelists for Okay, it’s back on. Thanks so much for joining us and please stick around because again, this is a theme track here on Fossil Fuel phase out. We just heard about extraction issues. Segueing pretty well into what’s coming next is all about refining in the state of California and how we’re going to extract ourselves from that industry and decommission in a just way. So thanks again and hope you can stick around that session. We’ll start at 2:40 PM shortly. Thank you.