October 2023 Newsletter

Local Action for a Better World

Free ‘lunch and learn’ webinars

Walnut Creek Sustainability Week

October 23, 25, and 26 – Noon to 1:15pm

Register here for the events!

In partnership with the Contra Costa County Library, we will be holding three ‘lunch and learn’ webinars for Walnut Creek Sustainability Week. These are free events. Please join us!

Monday, October 23 – Noon to 1:15pm

Building Electrification at Home:

Practical information for switching to electric appliances

Learn about rebates and tax credits that help upgrade your home and improve indoor air quality while helping the environment.


Wednesday, October 25 – Noon to 1:15pm

Climate Change Solutions and Advocacy:

The role of advocacy for clean, renewable energy to power our world

To bring in a livable future for our children, we need ordinary citizens to advocate at all levels of government for electrification and a transition to renewable energy sources.


Thursday, October 26 – Noon to 1:15pm

What is a carbon sink?

Natural and not-so-natural ways to cool our planet by removing and storing carbon

It's in the news every day: Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). Learn about both kinds of CCS: the natural carbon capture happening in forests, wetlands, and grasslands, as well as the technology for capturing and storing carbon pollution from fossil fuels. We’ll discuss the proposed Montezuma Wetlands CCS project in our own backyard and what you can do to prevent it.

Register for one, two, or all three webinars here.


Carbon Capture and Storage: a false climate solution

These days, any discussion of climate change is bound to include talk of carbon capture and storage, or CCS. CCS is the process of capturing massive amounts of carbon dioxide where it’s being emitted (like at a power plant or oil refinery), transporting it to a storage site, and injecting it deep into the ground.

The oil and gas industry is touting CCS technology as a panacea that will save the world from the catastrophic global warming they’ve caused. And no wonder—they see CCS as a way to keep on drilling far into the future, maintaining their very profitable business model. They’re selling it as a young, promising technology that will enable us to mitigate climate change effects without giving up our addiction to fossil fuels.

Never mind CCS’s track record of expensive failures, they say—we’ll fix the bugs as we go along.

So here’s the big picture: the fossil fuel industry is a machine defiling the Earth by mining and drilling deep into its crust. Extraction of coal, oil and gas takes away what took millions of years to produce; it’s not sustainable because petroleum is a finite resource. The environmental degradation involved in extraction, transport and refining of fossil fuels is horrific. Burning the stuff is not the only problem.

CCS is essentially a way of expanding and extending this fundamentally bad technology by adding more—more pipelines, more energy-intensive industrial projects, more destruction and degradation.

We already have safe, proven technology for a much better solution: a rapid switch to renewable energy sources like solar and wind power. In contrast, CSS is unproven and far from safe.

The CCS process requires compressing carbon dioxide into liquid form, making it an extremely cold and dense asphyxiant. When there’s a pipeline rupture, this liquid CO2 emerges as an opaque white cloud that spreads rapidly in all directions, suffocating humans and animals. Gas-powered vehicles don’t work; they need oxygen, too. Do we really want these pipelines in earthquake country?

Yet plans for building CCS facilities in California, including the Bay Area, are moving ahead at full speed. Calpine, a giant power generation company, has launched a CCS pilot project at its Los Medanos Energy Center in Pittsburg.

What’s worse, the proposed Montezuma NorCal Carbon Sequestration Hub would collect carbon dioxide from oil refineries and power plants in Solano and Contra Costa; transport it via barge and a pipeline under Suisun Bay; and store it under wetlands near Collinsville, across the bay from Pittsburg. Find out more about the Montezuma Project in this excellent article by our friends at Sunflower Alliance.

Fortunately, EPA’s Region 9 has to review the plans before this project can proceed—and the review will probably take a year. There’s time to organize and shut the Montezuma Project down.

In coming months, we’ll let you know what you can do. It’s going to take all of us.


California suing Big Oil for damages

On September 15, Governor Newsom announced a lawsuit aimed at five oil companies—ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and BP—plus the American Petroleum Institute. The suit asserts that these companies knew about the dangers of burning fossil fuels more than 50 years ago and mounted a disinformation campaign to discredit the emerging scientific consensus about climate change.

The state is seeking creation of a special industry-financed fund to help pay for recovery efforts in the wake of climate-related disasters. Newsom said, ‘California taxpayers shouldn’t have to foot the bill for billions of dollars in damages—wildfires wiping out entire communities, toxic smoke clogging our air, deadly heatwaves, record-breaking droughts parching our wells.’ Read more here.

Of course, the big oil companies should be held to account for the environmental havoc they’ve wrought with their lies. Even more important, they must be made to stop causing further damage to our health and environment. It’s time to keep fossil fuels in the ground. Period.


Nine climate ‘solutions’ that don’t help

The good folks at Climate & Capital recently published this enlightening piece on false climate solutions. Not surprisingly, CCS is at the top of their list—but it’s only one in an ‘entire suite of bad ideas … being pushed by a fossil fuel industry determined to slow global efforts to decarbonize.’


Legislative wrap-up

Thanks to everyone who called Sacramento last month about the six bills we targeted! Of the six, five passed both houses and were signed by the governor, including these two, which are the most extensive emissions- and climate-disclosure laws ever enacted in the United States:

  • SB 253, the Climate Corporate Data Accountability Act, requires large corporations doing business in California—those earning more than $1 billion per year—to publicly disclose their carbon emissions in a manner that’s clear and easy to understand.
  • SB 261, the Climate-Related Financial Risk Act, requires large companies that do business in California to submit annual climate-related financial risk reports to the CA Secretary of State.

These three also have become law:

  • AB 421 – Referendum Accountability brings real reforms to the state ballot referendum process, which the oil and gas, tobacco, and other industries have used to block good laws.
  • AB 579 – Zero-Emission Schoolbuses requires all new schoolbus purchases and contracts to be ZEVs by 2035.  
  • AB 1167 – Orphan Well Prevention requires companies that buy oil and gas wells to post a bond covering cleanup costs after the well stops producing. Read why this is important here.

The last of our six was SB 674, the Refinery Air Pollution Transparency and Reduction Act. This bill sets minimum statewide standards for the refinery fence-line monitoring program, ensuring that noxious pollutants are measured and surrounding communities are notified when pollutant levels threaten health and safety.

Unfortunately, the Western States Petroleum Association mounted a last-minute push for amendments that would have seriously weakened the bill. As a result, it did not reach the floor for a vote. But there’s still hope—as a two-year bill, SB 674 can be re-introduced in 2024.

Overall, lots of good news came out of this legislation session!

Thank you—

Emily and Lisa


The time for climate action is NOW!

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