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November 2023 Newsletter

Local Action for a Better World

Montezuma CarbonHub: a dangerous distraction from real climate solutions

These days, even the oil and gas industry admits that greenhouse gas emissions are a bad thing. It’s agreed—before our planet becomes uninhabitable, we need to stop insulating it with carbon dioxide (CO2) from our power plants, refineries, tailpipes and so on. Fortunately, safe, affordable, proven ways to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions already exist: solar and wind power. The fossil fuel industry is a dinosaur, and it’s time for that dinosaur to go extinct.

The oil and gas companies, fighting to survive, are staking everything on Carbon Capture and Storage, or CCS. It’s okay to keep burning fossil fuels, they say—we’ll just grab the emissions and stick them far underground. CCS enables them to continue their business as usual while claiming it’s safe for the planet—the ultimate greenwashing scam.

The whole process of extracting, transporting, and refining fossil fuels requires vast amounts of energy and does horrific damage to the environment—burning  the coal, oil, and gas is just part of the problem. And these fossil fuels aren’t a sustainable energy source; Nature needed millions of years to produce the petroleum, and there’s only so much.

CCS is basically more of this unsustainable, destructive technology: more drilling, more pipelines, more ecosystem degradation. And it doesn’t even work! Despite decades of development and billions of dollars of investment, CCS has consistently proven to be ineffective, unsafe, economically unsound, and unnecessary. We prefer to call it Carbon Waste Dumping.

Carbon Waste Dumping in the Bay Area: Montezuma CarbonHub

The proposed Montezuma NorCal Carbon Sequestration Hub would drill a huge injection well under wetlands in southern Solano County, across Suisun Bay from Pittsburg. Carbon dioxide from oil refineries and power plants in Contra Costa and Solano would be collected and transported to the wetlands by barge and pipeline.

This project, one of more than twenty Carbon Waste Dumping projects currently proposed in California, poses serious risks to public health and wildlife. And it would perpetuate environmental injustice in our frontline communities.

Read more here.


The County’s draft General Plan and CAP are out!

Contra Costa County has released drafts of two very important documents: the 2045 General Plan and the Climate Action Plan (CAP) 2024 Update. The General Plan is a compendium of policies guiding land use and infrastructure decisions in unincorporated areas for the next two decades. As a companion to the General Plan, the CAP lays out pathways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and deal with effects of climate change like wildfires, drought, and floods.

The CAP presents five broad climate goals:

  • Homes and other buildings powered by clean energy
  • Solid waste greatly reduced
  • More options for walking, biking, and public transit, and a big increase in the percentage of zero-emission vehicles
  • Increased resilience to climate hazards
  • Climate equity regarding access to outdoor spaces and healthful food and housing

Each of these goal areas is supported by several specific strategies.

All of us are encouraged to comment on both draft documents between now and January 31, 2024. You can find them here. While reading, you can click at any point and add your comment about that specific section. This is a great chance to speak up for bold climate action!

Our Local Policy team is working on a review of both the CAP and the General Plan. When that’s done, we’ll host a workshop with County staff to give them our feedback. If you’re interested in getting involved with the review process, please email


Three Contra Costa cities get urban forest grants

In September, the US Forest Service announced awards of more than $42 million from their Urban and Community Forestry grant program to Bay Area cities. This program, funded by the Inflation Reduction Act, aims to help urban areas combat climate change by planting trees and creating green spaces.

Pittsburg received a $2 million grant, and Concord received $1 million. Walnut Creek was awarded $100,000.


Carbon waste dumping in our National Forests?!

The US Forest Service (USFS) is also in the news for a not-so-good reason. They are proposing to make all National Forest System lands available for Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) projects—that means opening the door for CO2 injection wells and pipelines across the country on lands that we, the people, own. California has more National Forest lands than all but one other state.

The proposed rule change would allow the Forest Service to “authorize exclusive and perpetual use and occupancy for carbon capture and storage in subsurface pore spaces.” Yikes!

Although this would be a huge, permanent change, the Forest Service has allowed only 60 days for public comment—the deadline is January 2, 2024.

Find out more in this Common Dreams op-ed by a former USFS official; then submit a formal comment to the Forest Service here.  


Six million heat pumps

Last month, ten major manufacturers of building heating and cooling equipment committed to working toward California’s goal to have six million electric heat pumps installed by 2030.

Compared to traditional HVACs and water heaters, heat pumps are a much cleaner, more efficient way to heat space and water inside buildings. Currently, more than 1.5 million heat pumps have been installed across the state.

Find out more about the industry commitment here.

Thinking of upgrading to a heat pump? Learn about California’s residential energy rebate programs funded through the Inflation Reduction Act here.


And more good news…

MCE is a not-for-profit public agency that provides electricity from renewable energy sources to more than 1.5 million residents and businesses in 37 member communities in four counties—Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, and Solano.

Recently, MCE announced that their standard 60% renewable Light Green energy service is now more than 95% greenhouse gas-free. That’s 18 years ahead of California’s clean electricity target!


Three New Webinars

Last month, we partnered with Contra Costa County Library to bring you webinars on three key climate topics. If you missed them, no worries—the recordings are available on our website!

Making the Switch to Electric Appliances

Learn how you can reduce your carbon footprint while making your home a healthier place for your family.


Advocating for Climate Change Solutions

Educate yourself on the issues of climate change—and find out how to get started working for climate solutions, locally and in Sacramento.


Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)

Learn why CCS is a terrible idea, get the details on what’s proposed for the Montezuma Wetlands, and find out what you can do to stop this project.  


No more orphaned oil wells

One of our great victories in the last legislative session was AB 1167, the Orphan Well Prevention Act, signed into law by the governor on October 7.

An orphaned oil well is one that’s no longer producing and needs to be cleaned up so it’s not a health hazard; right now, there are about 5,000 orphaned wells in California. How did they become orphans? The big oil companies tend to sell off wells with dwindling profitability, and the buyers of these wells tend to be smaller, not-very-solvent operators. When these smaller companies go bankrupt, the burden of paying cleanup costs is shifted to us taxpayers.

Before AB 1167 became law, anyone buying a well was required to post a bond covering cleanup costs—but the bonding amounts were nowhere near sufficient for the task. The average cleanup costs $68,000, but the average bond amount is just a little over $1000.

The new law doesn’t provide funding to clean up existing orphan wells, but it’s a great remedy for the approximately 70,000 idle or marginally producing wells that could be abandoned in the future. Now that AB 1167’s in place, all buyers must provide bonding for the full, actual cost of cleaning up the wells they’re buying. Crisis averted!

Thank you—

Emily and Lisa


The time for climate action is NOW!

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