July 2022 Newsletter

Supreme Court decision: a major setback

On June 30, the US Supreme Court dealt the climate a serious blow. Their ruling in West Virginia vs EPA severely limits the Environmental Protection Agency’s power to regulate carbon emissions from power plants.

There’s no sugar-coating this news; it’s bad. The ruling makes it much tougher to reach our country’s goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030. But it’s still doable.

Now, it’s more important than ever to work at the state and local levels to halt the burning of fossil fuels. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) must issue a strong 2022 Scoping Plan—one that phases out refineries and gas-fired generation of electric power; dramatically reduces emissions from vehicles; and eliminates the use of “natural gas” in buildings.

The Scoping Plan that CARB released in May is still just a draft. There will be another round of hearings and more opportunity for public comment. We’ll let you know when it’s time to speak out again.


El Cerrito residents: urgent action needed by Monday

Residents of El Cerrito are taking local action to cut fossil-fuel emissions! They are asking their city council members to get busy and follow through on the Climate Emergency Resolution they passed back in August 2019. The grassroots group is focusing first on getting their city to pass an ordinance requiring new building construction in El Cerrito to be all-electric.

If you live in El Cerrito, please sign this petition to the City Council voicing your support for building electrification. If you know folks who live in El Cerrito, please forward the petition to them.

The petition will be presented at the next City Council meeting, July 19, 6pm, at 10890 San Pablo Ave. For more information, email Bill at bill350ccvolunteers@sonic.net.

Building electrification: the basics

When we think of greenhouse gas emissions, we may picture smokestacks or tailpipes belching foul-smelling smoke. But there’s another big factor: energy use in commercial and residential buildings causes about a quarter of California’s climate pollution.

The oil and gas industry has tried to represent “natural gas”—more appropriately called “fossil gas”— as a clean, practical alternative to coal and oil. But fossil gas not only is a major factor in climate change, but also causes serious health problems and water pollution. Learn more here.

Eliminating fossil gas as an energy source in our homes and businesses is a feasible way to reduce emissions and help put the brakes on climate change. What’s more, going all-electric means no more exposure to the indoor air pollutants emitted by gas appliances. And all-electric buildings have lower construction costs compared to buildings with both gas and electricity.

Chefs and home cooks are favoring electric induction cooktops over gas ranges.

Earlier this year, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance mandating all new construction to be all-electric. A great start! But this ordinance affects only unincorporated areas in the county. Now, each of our nineteen cities and towns needs to pass its own new building electrification ordinance—except for Richmond and Hercules, which have already done so. Two down, seventeen to go!

New petition to save rooftop solar

Our friends at Solar Rights Alliance have launched a new petition telling the CEOs of three big investor-owned utilities, including PG&E, to cease and desist their campaign against rooftop solar. Please sign and share!

Biofuels Update: lawsuits filed against Contra Costa projects

Our friends at Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) have sued to stop biofuel refining at the Phillips 66 Rodeo and Marathon Martinez Refineries. This is good—because biofuels are a bad idea.

We were disappointed in May when the Board of Supervisors approved these projects, which recent research shows have negligible benefits in mitigating climate change.

During the California Clean Air Board (CARB) Climate Change Scoping Plan hearing in June, speakers pointed to the global food shortage and the indirect effects on food security of refining and burning food crop oils for biofuel. Dan Sperling, director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Davis, called for more investigation into the impacts of using food crops for biofuels, and the board asked to be provided with more studies on this topic.

We hope the projects at both refineries will be stopped by the court by mid-2023.

Coming up in Sacramento

When the new legislative session begins on August 1, senators and assemblymembers will be considering a number of important climate-related bills.

These bills are “in their second house”—that is, bills that originated and passed in the Senate are now in the Assembly, and vice versa. Each bill must go to one or more policy committees, and if it involves expenditures, it must get through a fiscal committee as well. All the bills we’re watching have passed their policy committees and been referred to an Appropriations Committee.

For example, AB 2649, the Natural Carbon Sequestration and Resilience Act, has already passed two committees in the Senate: Natural Resources and Environmental Quality.

AB 2146, Banning Non-Agricultural Neonicotinoids, has passed the Senate Environmental Quality Committee. This important bill helps protect bees and other pollinators, clean water, people, and the future of our food supply by banning five key neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticides from use in most non-agricultural settings.

And if SB 1314, Enhanced Oil Recovery, becomes law, it will prevent carbon capture projects from resulting in increased fossil fuel production.

These and other bills are key for stabilizing the climate and making California a healthy, sustainable place to live. We can all play a role in making them the law of the land. To learn more about how bills become law in our state, see this overview of the legislative process.

Democracy only works when the people participate.

June 7 primary election results in Contra Costa

Our candidate for County Clerk-Recorder, Pinole City Councilmember Devin Murphy, came in third, so he won’t be on the November ballot.

In the race for the County Assessor’s office, our candidate Floy Andrews lost to incumbent Gus Kramer.

Dirty dollars in Sacramento

Two of Contra Costa’s representatives in Sacramento, Steve Glazer (Senate District 7) and Tim Grayson (Assembly District 14), are high on Sierra Club California’s list of legislators taking “dirty dollars” from the oil and gas industry.

Between January 2021 and May 2022, Steve Glazer took more oil money than any other legislator in the state: a stunning $66,000, including contributions from Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Phillips 66, and Valero. Most of these contributions went into Glazer’s campaign for State Controller.

In that same period, Tim Grayson accepted $32,900 in dirty donations.

We’re just getting started

350CCA is determined to stand in the way when fossil-fuel companies try to buy the votes of our elected officials. We intend to amplify the voices of voters demanding immediate, effective action on climate change.

We’re counting on you to help END Big Oil’s influence on our legislators—and to get bold, climate-forward candidates elected to state and county offices.

There’s so much you can do. Please join us!

A note about our name

You may have noticed a change in our banner this month—from 350 Contra Costa to 350 Contra Costa Action.Why? Well, 350 Contra Costa Action and 350 Contra Costa are sister organizations. 350CCA focuses on electing climate-forward candidates and influencing policy decisions, while 350CC educates community members to become effective advocates for climate solutions.

Starting this month, we’re combining the newsletters for the two organizations under the Action banner.

Stay safe,

Lisa and Emily.

Follow us on Facebook, @350contracosta, Twitter, @350ccc

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