March 2023 Newsletter

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Local Action for a Better World

Great news for our air quality!

On March 15, the nine-county Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) voted to phase out ‘natural’ gas furnaces and water heaters starting in 2027. The goal is to eliminate emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), a significant cause of serious health problems.

As the rules take effect, only heaters that don’t emit NOx (in other words, only all-electric water heaters, furnaces, and heat pumps) will be permitted in new construction. What’s more, if a gas-powered heater in an existing building needs to be replaced, the new appliance must not emit NOx.

BAAQMD’s new rules provide a model for the rest of the country in cutting NOx emissions. This is a huge step forward!

Hercules moving to cleaner energy

In other great news, on March 14, the Hercules City Council voted to have staff enter into negotiations with MCE to supply the city’s electricity. By choosing renewable electricity from MCE, residents and businesses can fight climate change with one simple step. Offering 60% and 100% renewable options at competitive rates, MCE ensures your electricity comes from more renewable sources like solar, wind, and geothermal energy.

In Contra Costa, four cities—Antioch, Brentwood, Clayton, and Orinda—have yet to move to MCE. If you live in one of these places, you can make a big difference by pushing your city council to go with one of MCE’s renewable options. For more information, just email us at

Grid resilience without gas

Nobody likes a power outage. As the need for electric power grows, many of us are understandably concerned that California’s grid may be overstressed and failures may be even more frequent. Grid resilience is a real issue, and it’s getting lots of expert attention these days.

In case of a power outage, solar panels paired with ample battery storage make an excellent backup. Fossil gas (so-called ‘natural’ gas), on the other hand, has no role to play in a safe, clean, resilient energy system. Extraction, transport, and combustion of fossil gas are a major factor in global climate change and a threat to human health—the sooner we stop using it, the better.

Nevertheless, some say that we can’t do without fossil gas—that a ban on new gas infrastructure would grow demand for electricity too quickly, with dire results for the grid.

But fossil gas is simply not reliable or safe. Our state’s vast system of gas pipelines is in dangerously bad shape, as shown by the fatal 2010 explosion in San Bruno and the huge methane leak at Aliso Canyon in 2015.

Gas pipelines are a liability in natural disasters and extreme weather events. According to the California Energy Commission, many pipelines are vulnerable to the flooding and erosion caused by ‘atmospheric river’ storms. Earthquakes are an obvious problem. And for buildings threatened by wildfire, gas appliances are definitely not an asset.

Once the gas system is turned off during a disaster, restoring service takes about 30 times longer than restoring electricity. Residents are left without heat or hot water while the entire pipeline system is purged and checked and a service technician visits each home. In fact, PG&E supports the transition to all-electric energy infrastructure and plans to eventually dismantle the entire gas system.

Anyway, in any power failure these days, a gas-powered furnace, range, or water heater would likely be no help. Modern gas appliances generally don’t operate without electricity.

The bottom line: we need an energy system that’s safe, clean, and resilient—and fossil gas is none of these things. The time for electrification is now.

Poisoned soil in Martinez

Remember that white powder that blanketed Martinez back In November? A chemical accident at Martinez Refinery covered the surrounding area with 20 tons of dust containing heavy metals such as aluminum, chromium, and barium—but didn’t report the incident to the county health department.

Now, out of concern about toxic contamination, Contra Costa Health Services has warned residents of Martinez and nearby Pacheco not to eat the veggies growing in their home gardens.

This is not the kind of world anyone wants to live in. All of us deserve clean air and healthful, locally grown produce. Let’s be clear: fossil fuel production has simply got to go.

Climate solutions at home:

Induction cooktops and electric leaf blowers

Thanks to an innovative e-lending program set up by Lafayette’s Environmental Task Force, city residents can borrow an induction cooktop or electric leaf blower for up to two weeks.

Compared to gas stoves, induction cooktops offer greater precision, safety, and speed in cooking—with no toxic emissions. And they are available in all price points, from portable units under $100 to high-end models. For information on rebates and incentives for induction cooktops and other home appliances, visit The Switch Is On.

Electric leaf blowers are cleaner, quieter, and less destructive than gas-powered leaf blowers, which emit high levels of toxic pollution and noise pollution. Ironically, gas-powered leaf blowers can be harmful for the long-term health of a garden because they damage the topsoil, a crucial component for healthy plants. For these reasons and more, gas leaf blowers will no longer be sold in California starting next year.

Attention Lafayette residents

If you live in Lafayette and would like to borrow an induction cooktop, sign up here. To borrow an electric leaf blower, sign up here.

California Climate Policy Summit 2023

Our friends at the Climate Center are putting on a day-long conference in Sacramento on Tuesday, April 11.The second annual California Climate Policy Summit will bring together elected and business leaders, policy experts, activists, and environmental justice advocates to build support for climate policy commensurate with what science demands.

The Summit offers a wonderful opportunity to build your knowledge of current issues and bills. Check out the stellar speakers and sessions here; then register here.

Then, consider joining the 350 Contra Costa legislative team! We are about to start tracking and advocating for this legislative session’s climate-related bills, and we’d love to have your help. You don’t need to be an expert—just learn as you go. For more information, please email

Emily and Lisa

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The time for climate action is NOW!

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