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Opinion: Methane leaks in the Central Valley may be worsening COVID-19 cases

by Karen L. Jones, California Health Report


Highlights

  • According to the California Department of Public Health, the death rate due to chronic lower respiratory disease is 12 times higher in the San Joaquin Valley compared to the rest of the state and 14 times higher than the national rate
  • The intense pollution in the region can have severe effects on Valley residents who contract COVID-19
  • Kern County does not meet federal ozone and particulate matter standards due to the pollution caused by the region’s petroleum industry among other factors such as unplugged oil wells that leak methane
  • There are reports of several wells leaking at rates over 200,000 percent above the EPA average estimate for western U.S. gas wells
  • Methane leaks detected by using airborne infrared imaging sensors show that nearly 4 billion cubic feet of methane may have been released in Kern County oil fields
  • The gathering of methane plume imagery could help locate and plug methane leaks in oil fields

Increased air pollution from fossil fuel emissions makes all of us more vulnerable to the current COVID-19 pandemic. For a safe and healthy future for all, endorse the Climate-Safe California Platform to implement scalable solutions that can reverse the climate crisis.


Read More: https://www.calhealthreport.org/2020/08/18/opinion-methane-leaks-in-the-central-valley-may-be-worsening-covid-19-cases/

How the gas industry is waging war against climate action

by Emily Holden, The Guardian


Highlights

  • The gas industry has been orchestrating efforts to push against any climate policy that threatens their business models through coalition building, hiring lobbying firms, social media strategy, and op-eds
  • Though natural gas is touted as a safe resource, the extraction and transportation of the gas leaks methane, which is more powerful than carbon dioxide and is being emitted by the gas industry in large quantities
  • In Seattle, where the city council attempted to ban natural gas hookups in order to eliminate pollution, there was mass opposition from plumbers, realtors, and building owners who feared job losses and discontent with people who wanted gas in their homes
  • Charlie Spatz, a researcher at the Climate Investigations Center, says that the push back is due to the threat of the industries failing business:

“The gas utilities are facing an existential threat, and instead of approaching a decarbonizing economy as an opportunity to reinvent themselves, they’re digging their heels in and going back to the age-old tactics of [the fossil fuel industry]”

  • A group called Partnership for Energy Progress (PEP) which consists of western utilities, labor unions and businesses plans to spend nearly $3 million in efforts to convince consumers that natural gas is an important player in our green energy future
    • The American Public Gas Association is spending at least $127,000 on anti-electrification initiatives and $200,000 for media monitoring, engagement with reporters, letters to the editor, op-eds and social media efforts

While the gas industry has been touting how many jobs they support, jobs within the renewable sector are vastly outpacing those in the fossil fuel industry. The Climate Center works toward electrifying buildings and vehicles using 100% clean energy sources such as solar and wind to eliminate fossil fuel-based emissions and promote economic opportunities in the renewable energy industry.


Read More: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/aug/20/gas-industry-waging-war-against-climate-action

The worst-case scenario for global warming tracks closely with actual emissions


Highlights

  • The worst-case climate scenarios that feature the highest greenhouse gas emissions projections are the best ones to strategically plan for as they capture both future and historical emissions
  • Though the use of coal is dwindling, cumulative concentrations of greenhouse gases that were emitted in the past play a huge role in future warming projections
  • Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) are scenarios that show how much warmer the world will become by 2100
    • The Paris Agreement would be an RCP of 2.6, leading the world to 3.6 Degrees Fahrenheit. Effects of this RCP allow only 10% of coral reefs to survive
    • The worst-case scenario, RCP 8.5, would lead to an 8 Degree F increase, causing a 3-foot increase in sea level rise

Scientists are increasingly warning that to avoid catastrophic impacts from climate change, the world’s governments must implement massive reductions of warming emissions and begin a drawdown of greenhouse gases (GHG) from the atmosphere over the decade ahead.  For a safe and healthy future for all, endorse the Climate-Safe California Platform to implement scalable solutions that can reverse the climate crisis.


Read More: https://insideclimatenews.org/news/03082020/climate-change-scenarios-emissions

Committee For A Better Arvin / Comite para un Arvin mejor

Tired of wells that threaten residents’ health, a small California town takes on the oil industry


Highlights

  • In the Central Valley of California, exhaust from semi-trucks, oil and gas fumes, plus pesticides from the agricultural sector are trapped in the valley, creating mass pollution that creates severe health problems
    • Health effects include asthma, respiratory illnesses, preterm birth, low birth weight, and cancer 
  • Pollution caused by drilling sites disproportionately affect neighborhoods that are predominately occupied by Black, Indigenous, People of Color 
  • Though implementing setbacks or buffers that separate drilling sites from homes, schools, and hospitals effectively reduces health risks, California has no mandates or laws requiring these buffers
  • Oil industry giants such as the Western States Petroleum Association and Chevron have spent $9.9 million and $7.5 million on lobbying this legislative season
    • These same companies successfully advocated for streamlined approval of new oil projects with little environmental review
  • A community group in the Central Valley town of Arvin, named Committee for a Better Arvin, have taken on the oil industry in their community 
      • In 2014 a leaky pipeline had caused an air sampling from the inside of homes on a street in Arvin to have levels of toxic gas 13 times higher than deemed safe by the EPA 
      • With help from other smaller community groups plus big environmental groups, Committee for a Better Arvin sued for better regulations in their community
  • In Los Angeles County over 1.5 million people live within 2,500 feet of an operational oil well
  • AB 345 would create setbacks of 2,500ft, being the first mandate for buffers in the state
  • The bill would not stall oil production but would help frontline communities avoid toxic levels of pollution 

The Climate Center’s Climate-Safe California Platform advocates for a formal California State commitment by 2022 to 80% below 1990 levels of greenhouse gas emissions and net-negative emissions by 2030. This bold target requires accelerating the phase-out of fossil fuel development, production, and use.


Read More: https://insideclimatenews.org/news/02082020/california-big-oil-environmental-health

New report on climate-driven mass migration of humanity

by Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica


Highlights

  • Due to the climate crisis, mass migrations of people will continue to grow as flooding, drought, food insecurity become more widespread
  • In Alta Verapaz, Guatemala is experiencing the worst effects of the climate crisis, as El Nino storms will decrease rainfall by 60%, making it nearly impossible to grow crops for sustenance and income
  • the planet could see a greater temperature increase in the next 50 years than it did in the last 6,000 years combined
  • In the next 80 years, the world could see temperatures so hot that going outside for a few hours can be deadly
  • Extremely hot areas that currently cover less than 1% of the earth’s land surface could cover nearly a fifth of the land, displacing 1 of every 3 people alive outside the climate niche where humans have relied on for crop cultivation and livable temperatures
  • Climate refugees must be admitted into countries that are not experiencing the most severe effects of the climate crisis. Preparation and planning of this mass migration is key in order to avoid political instability and conflict
  • In Southeast Asia, where increasingly unpredictable monsoon rainfall and drought have made farming more difficult, the World Bank points to more than 8 million people who have moved toward the Middle East, Europe, and North America
  • Using a model created by ProPublica and The New York Times Magazine, the most extreme climate scenario would result in over 30 million migrants trying to reach the US over the next 30 years
  • Reduction in emissions would result in close to 700,00 climate migrants from Central America and Mexico to the US from now to 2050. Without emissions reductions, the US could see close to one million migrants
  • The United Nations estimates that some 65% of farmable lands have already been degraded in the African Sahel due to rapid desertification
  • Coastal regions in the US, China, Thailand, Vietnam, Iraq, and Egypt are at risk of submerging underwater due to rising tides

Scientists are increasingly warning that to avoid catastrophic impacts from climate change, the world’s governments must implement massive reductions of warming emissions and begin a drawdown of greenhouse gases (GHG) from the atmosphere over the decade aheadFor a safe and healthy future for all, endorse the Climate-Safe California Platform to implement scalable solutions that can reverse the climate crisis.


Read More: https://features.propublica.org/climate-migration/model-how-climate-refugees-move-across-continents/

AB 345 will fight CA oil industry’s environmental racism

by Jane Fonda and Don Martin, The Sacramento Bee


Highlights

  • Politicians that allow pollution in our state’s most vulnerable neighborhoods, which are disproportionately communities of color, are signaling that this environmental racism is not a concern and that people of color are “disposable”
  • Over 215,000 people in Los Angeles live within 2,500 feet of an active oil and gas well
  • Exposure to gases and chemicals from the fossil fuel industry are causing massive health issues, such as asthma and cancer
  • A Stanford study found that pregnant women living near oil and gas wells in California face a high risk of preterm birth, with Black and Latinx women facing the highest risks
  • People exposed to large amounts of pollution are more likely to have severe and lethal effects of COVID-19
  • AB 345 will establish a state law that requires oil and gas drilling sites to be 2,500 feet away from homes, schools, and hospitals
  • However, the LA County Department of Regional Planning recently released plans for a 500-foot buffer zone from new drilling sites which is not an adequate distance 
  • Passing AB 345 will let Californians know that our elected representatives care about communities of color and are working toward ending environmental racism 

Take action to support AB 345. Increased air pollution from fossil fuel emissions makes all of us more vulnerable to the current COVID-19 pandemic. For a safe and healthy future for all, endorse the Climate-Safe California Platform to implement scalable solutions that can reverse the climate crisis.


Read More: https://www.sacbee.com/opinion/california-forum/article244232417.html

‘We essentially cook ourselves’ if we don’t fix air conditioning, major UN report warns

by Dharna Noor, Gizmodo


Highlights

  • A new report from the United Nations shows that 460 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions could be avoided worldwide by switching to energy-efficient, climate-safe air conditioning
  • There are 3.6 billion cooling appliances, including refrigerators, freezers, and air conditioning units in use around the globe
  • Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), chemicals that were once used in air conditioning units, among other products, were banned after the Montreal Protocol. However, their replacement, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are also negatively impacting the climate as they are 11,700 times more warming than carbon dioxide
    • In 2019 governments adopted the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol in order to phase out HFCs
    • Doing so could avoid as much as 0.7 degrees Fahrenheit of warming if adopted globally
    • However, major emitters such as the US and India are two of the 90 countries that have not signed on
  • Doubling the energy efficiency of air conditioners could save up to $2.9 trillion by 2050
  • Promoting the construction of energy-efficient housing with alternative cooling options like green roofs will reduce the world’s need for air conditioning

Fossil fuel divestment and the transition to 100% clean energy is critical to achieving The Climate Center’s goals under the Climate-Safe California Platform.


Read More: https://earther.gizmodo.com/we-essentially-cook-ourselves-if-we-don-t-fix-air-con-1844416667

A jobs program to plug abandoned oil wells sounds like a win-win. Is it?

by Emily Pontecorvo, Grist


Highlights

  • Abandoned oil wells across the country are leaking methane, a greenhouse gas that has 86 times the heat-trapping power of carbon dioxide
  • The impending collapse of the oil industry around the world will only make matters worse, as more oil wells will be abandoned and the gas leaks will continue
  • A new report from Resources for the Future and Columbia University suggests creating a federally funded jobs program that would plug the holes left by oil wells by employing oil and gas workers
  • Similar propositions have been made: one in an infrastructure bill passed by the US House of Representatives and a nearly $2 billion program in Canada
  • There are 56,600 known unplugged “orphaned” wells within the country, however, there may be hundreds of thousands of unknown wells that were created before regulations were in place
  • The cost of plugging the wells range from $4,000 to over $100,000 per well with a total program cost of  $1.4 billion to $2.7 billion and could support about 13,500 jobs for one year
  • However, these costs are only estimates and the true cost of plugging could be more
  • As demand for labor and equipment increases, costs could increase or they could decrease as crews learn to plug wells more efficiently. Carbon Tracker found that the cost of plugging a newer shale well, which is typically thousands of feet deeper than older wells, could be anywhere from $300,000 to more than $1 million.
  • Once taxpayers start spending billions to plug wells, the oil industry will have successfully avoided many of their own costs and successfully left them on the backs of taxpayers
  • Any federal effort to plug abandoned wells should likely focus on older, truly orphaned wells to avoid a perverse incentive for the industry to create more wells, and they should require states to ensure future plugging costs are fully covered by the industry.

Increased air pollution from fossil fuel emissions makes all of us more vulnerable to the current COVID-19 pandemic. For a safe and healthy future for all, endorse the Climate-Safe California Platform to implement scalable solutions that can reverse the climate crisis.


Read More: https://grist.org/energy/a-jobs-program-to-plug-abandoned-oil-wells-sounds-like-a-win-win-is-it/

SoCalGas trying to prevent regulators from learning more about its anti-climate political tactics

by Emily Atkin, Heated


Highlights

  • SoCalGas recently failed to stop building electrification efforts in the coastal city of San Luis Obispo by creating a group to advocate against it, threatening to hold a non-COVID 19 compliant rally if the law passes, and are suspected to have pushed a story saying building electrification was racially discriminatory
  • Over 120 city and county governments have been persuaded by SoCalGas to adopt “balanced energy solutions,” which discourage all-electric efforts in favor of natural gas
  • The Public Advocates Office of the California Public Utilities Commission company may be using customer money to fund their anti-electrification advocacy
  • SoCalGas refuses to comply with a watchdog subpoena and spent months fighting the regulator’s investigation
  • The company has also misused ratepayer money for anti-climate political activities by spending $28 million for “balanced energy” programs that were categorized as operations and maintenance, a category funded by ratepayers
  • A 2019 report from Brown University investigated ten large investor-owned utilities and found they were “historically central to the climate change countermovement,” meaning they often worked towards undermining climate action based on science for the past few decades

Fossil fuel divestment and the transition to 100% clean energy is critical to achieving The Climate Center’s goals under the Climate-Safe California Platform.


Read More: https://heated.world/p/some-real-shady-behavior

SoCal Gas Reaches $8.5 Million Settlement Over Aliso Canyon Gas Leak

SoCalGas ramps up use of Aliso Canyon, site of worst gas leak in U.S. history

by Sammy Roth, The Los Angeles Times


Highlights

One of Governor Gavin Newsom’s campaign promises was to wind down the usage of the Aliso Canyon gas storage field, located just outside Los Angeles. New reports show that the facility usage has increased during his governorship

  • Publicly available information analyzed by Food and Water Watch shows that SoCalGas, the owners of the facility, withdrew 20 billion cubic feet of gas from the site this winter
  • Aliso Canyon had the largest methane leak in U.S. history during 2015. Other pollutants in the leak include benzene and mercaptan, known to cause cancers.
  • Many environmental groups and residents near the field are calling for its closure due to the health impacts that many community members experience, including nausea, nose bleeds, and headaches
    • These complaints were large during the gas leak, but residents are feeling these events even as late as May 2020
  • Since the major gas leak, gas company officials say they have made many safety improvements including assessing oil wells every two years
  • The California Public Utilities Commission relaxed restrictions placed on the site due to concerns of high energy prices and supply shortages
  • Many believe SoCalGas still uses Aliso Canyon because the facility was worth $769 million at the end of 2019, and as long as it remains in use, SoCalGas customers will be on the hook to pay off the company’s investment, plus shareholder profits
  • Though clean energy advocates want to see the end of natural gas use within the state, SoCalGas wants to use more gas captured from dairy farms

Increased air pollution from fires and fossil fuel emissions makes all of us more vulnerable to the current COVID-19 pandemic. For a safe and healthy future for all, endorse the Climate-Safe California Platform to implement scalable solutions that can reverse the climate crisis.


Read more: https://www.latimes.com/environment/story/2020-06-09/socalgas-ramps-up-use-of-aliso-canyon-site-of-worst-gas-leak