Trump officials open door to fracking in California

fracking oil gasThe Trump administration is starting the process of opening up large swaths of land in California to hydraulic fracturing.

In a notice issued Wednesday to the Federal Register, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) said it intends to analyze the impact of hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, on publicly owned land throughout the state.

The area in question spans 400,000 acres of public land and 1.2 million acres of federal mineral estates throughout a number of California counties including Fresno, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara.

The notice of intent says BLM will begin the scoping process for a supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, which will determine the effects of fracking on the environment. Fracking is a technology used to release oil and gas from land. The administration’s intent is to eventually open up public land to new lease sales.

The announcement follows a 2017 lawsuit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity. That lawsuit challenged a 2015 attempt by the federal government to finalize a resource management plan that acknowledged fracking. In its settlement, BLM promised that it would first provide an environmental impact statement before considering fracking. …

Click here to read the full article from The Hill

Californians Deserve Climate Policies That People Can Actually Afford

Ivanpah solar energyIn a recently published interview, Paul Hawken, an environmentalist, and Executive Director of Project Drawdown, a global coalition of researchers, scientists, and economists that models the impacts of global warming, made a spot-on observation about the pitfalls of seeking a simple, single solution to climate change.

Hawken observed that “people who are earnestly guiding us to climatic stability have not done the math.” Instead, he says “sincere, well-meaning people profess their beliefs.”

Nowhere is this truer than in California. In recent years, policymakers have increasingly aligned with advocacy groups pushing for one-track solutions to climate change, like 100 percent renewable electricity or all-electric buildings.

Two weeks ago, Assembly Bill 3232 – legislation that aims to electrify homes and businesses in the state – passed through the Assembly Utilities and Energy Committee with little fanfare.

There is a certain seductive simplicity to many of the single solutions aimed at addressing climate change. But, the math just doesn’t work. Moreover, the single solution policies that advocacy groups like Sierra Club are churning into new laws don’t take into account important considerations like affordability and the preferences of Californians.

Take 100 percent renewable electricity, for example. A recent Black and Veatch analysis showed 100 percent renewable electricity could cost California $3 trillion and require 900 square miles of solar panels and another 900 square miles of depletable and unrenewable battery storage.

That’s an area almost four times the size of the City of Los Angeles dedicated to disposable batteries and solar panels. For the price tag, you could buy Apple and have $2 trillion left over, eliminate a sizeable chunk of the US federal debt, or pay for private college tuition for about 25 million high school seniors.

AB 3232 seeks to move California toward another one-track solution – all electric buildings. A report released earlier this month by the California Building Industry Association (CBIA) found that replacing natural gas in every home would cost California families up to $6 billion annually and require most buildings to undergo expensive retrofits. That’s an almost $900 increase in annual energy costs for every California family. As Hawken points out, people seeking a single solution to climate change simply haven’t done the math.

Importantly, they also haven’t considered the preferences of California’s families and businesses. A separate CBIA study recently found that only 10 percent of voters would consider purchasing an all-electric home and 80 percent oppose laws that would take away their natural gas appliances.

Does it make sense to charge Californians a lot more for something they don’t want in the first place? Moreover, would the increased burden on families and businesses address climate change?

Hawken argues that most people trying to address climate change simply don’t know what the solution is. “If you had asked every person at COP21 in Paris (us included) to name the top 10 solutions in any order, I don’t believe anyone would have gotten it even close. That is still true. After 50 years of global warming being in the public sphere, we didn’t know the top solutions to reversing it. And there’s a reason: We never measured and modeled the top solutions.”

In California, a lot of work has been done to measure and model emissions linked to climate change. According to the California Air Resources Board (CARB), about 40 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in the state come from the transportation sector, with heavy duty trucks being the single greatest source. Consistent with Project Drawdown’s analysis, agriculture and waste are also significant contributors in California. More than 80 percent of methane emissions in the state come from farms, dairies and landfills. In contrast, natural gas end uses in residential buildings account for about 5 percent of emissions statewide, according to CARB.

Make no mistake about it, renewable electricity will play a crucial role in reducing emissions and reversing the effects of climate change. But, if California is serious about achieving the state’s ambitious climate goals we need all options on the table, including policies that reduce emissions from transportation and investments in technology that capture methane from farms and landfills for use as affordable and renewable energy.

Doing the math shows us that California needs a balanced strategy – one that achieves climate goals, but considers the impacts on families and businesses. Affordability and choice matter.

resident & Chief Operating Officer for Southern California Gas Co.

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

Proposals to ban internal combustion engines in California are a bad idea

carpool-laneThe latest battle in Sacramento’s war on California’s middle class is the push to ban the internal combustion engine.

Luckily, the effort has stalled.

The legislation that would have imposed the ban, Assembly Bill 1745, died last month, but bad ideas in California have a way of recurring like nightmares. We will see this proposal again, either as legislation next year or perhaps even as a ballot initiative. A number of so-called progressive candidates on the ballot this year have publicly stated they embrace this foolish idea.

The bill that was stopped, AB1745, would have prohibited the Department of Motor Vehicles from registering a new vehicle unless it was a zero emissions vehicle, beginning on January 1, 2040. Under the proposed law, a new car with an internal combustion engine could not legally be driven in California after that date.

A ban on internal combustion engines would certainly limit mobility and transportation options for millions of California families and businesses. And it would arbitrarily limit the development and use of advanced and efficient vehicle technologies, the kind that have already achieved great success in squeezing extra miles out of a gallon of gas.

Today, despite the availability of ZEVs, a substantial publicly funded rebate program and access to HOV lanes, ZEVs accounted for only 1.9 percent of the over 2,000,000 new passenger vehicles sold in California in 2016. And many of these sales are repeat sales to the same households, according to the UC Davis Institute of Transportation, raising the question of whether plug-in vehicles are experiencing widespread consumer rejection, outside of a limited group of true believers.

A ban on internal combustion engines is an attempt to force consumers into buying vehicles that they have decided are not best suited to their needs.

The better alternative is leveraging all available vehicle technologies, including efficient internal combustion engines, so that California can reach its environmental goals without banning or discouraging any technological innovations. …

Click here to read the full article from the OC Register

Trump girds for war with California over fuel economy

traffic-los-angelesThe Trump administration is speeding toward all-out war with California over fuel economy rules for cars and SUVs, proposing to revoke the state’s long-standing authority to enforce its own tough rules on tailpipe emissions.

The move forms a key part of a proposal by Trump’s environmental and transportation agencies to roll back the nation’s fuel economy standards. The agencies plan to submit the proposal to the White House for review within days.

The plan would freeze fuel economy targets at the levels required for vehicles sold in 2020, and leave those in place through 2026, according to federal officials who have reviewed it. That would mark a dramatic retreat from existing law, which aimed to get the nation’s fleet of cars and light trucks to an average fuel economy of 55 miles per gallon by 2025. Instead of average vehicle fuel economy ratcheting up to that level, it would stall out at 42 miles per gallon.

That would constitute the single biggest step the administration has taken to undermine efforts to combat climate change. …

Click here to read the full article from The Virginian Pilot

California Wants to Ban the Internal Combustion Engine

Engine CarCalifornia’s relentless crusade against emissions effectively camouflages its voracious need for revenues.

AB32, the original landmark bill was signed into law in 2006 when California contributed one percent to the world’s greenhouse gases. While the cap and trade program has been a cost effective method of reducing CA’s greenhouse gas emissions, the program does next to nothing to reducing global emissions. A decade later, in 2016, the California Energy Commission said we still contributed a minuscule one percent to the world’s greenhouse gases, but it has successfully extracted more than $7 billion dollars of revenue from our citizens to fund a multitude of governmental pet projects.

California’s elected officials must be in La La Land when they state that California’s economy is thriving in large part because of its emphasis on enacting sweeping environmental legislation. California’s economy, like the rest of the nation, has been booming ever since the recession, but California is ranking up where the state is not proud of. The California go-it-alone crusade to reduce emissions regressively impacts consumers.  Today the California energy portfolio, the environment, and climate change are always discussed together. Here’s what’s really up – energy costs, poverty, homelessness, welfare and unfunded pension liabilities.

  • California taxes and cost of living are higher than most other states.
  • California’s energy costs are as much as 50 percent higher than the national average.
  • Nearly 20 percent of California’s 38 million residents live below the poverty line.
  • California has more than 33 percent of the nation’s welfare recipients.
  • California is home to 12 percent of the nation’s population, but startlingly 22 percent of the nation’s homeless population.
  • Roughly 1.5 million households pay more than 50 percent of their income toward rent.
  • Unfunded pension liabilities.

Now compounding these problems is a bill currently under consideration in the Legislature, Assembly Bill 1745, that would outlaw the sale and registration of new light-duty vehicles powered by internal combustion engines beginning in 2040. The unintended consequence for those existing internal combustion engines after 2040 would be that people would drive their internal combustion engines for 50 years, like they did in Cuba, and adversely affect air pollution, and not take advantage of technology improvements. The sheer scope of the proposed mandate is staggering. According to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles, of the 35 million registered vehicles in CA there are over 26 million passenger vehicles registered in California. Of these, only about three percent are personal electric vehicles.  Limiting the types of new cars Californians could buy would disproportionately punish working families already struggling to make ends meet.

It appears that governments, worldwide, in pursuit of the current EV crusade, may be overlooking the fact that an essential ingredient that lithium-ion batteries are dependent on is cobalt which is already in limited supply worldwide to manufacture IPhones, IPads, and car batteries. Without the element’s energy density, batteries without cobalt tend to perform worse.  Currently about a quarter of global production of cobalt winds up in smartphones. In the expected event that cobalt supply does not meet the EV needs in the decades ahead, the impact on the local and international economies could be devastating. Environmentally, it’s also harder to recycle lithium-ion batteries with cobalt than lead-acid batteries used in gasoline powered vehicles.

Finally, AB1745 fails the cost-benefit test. California accounts for less than one percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, so even if every gasoline-powered car in our state were taken off the road tomorrow there would be zero impact on climate change.

Our elected leaders need to address the very real challenges facing California, rather than touting misguided new policies like AB 1745 that will only make our problems worse.

ounder of PTS Staffing Solutions, a technical staffing agency headquartered in Irvine

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

After $1 Billion in Govt. Subsidies ‘Green’ Tesla Fined $139K for Air Pollution

teslaTesla’s factory was fined $139,000 for emitting the same type of toxic NOx into the atmosphere that their electric-vehicles are supposed to eliminate.

Tesla has been fined $139,500 by Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) for emitting nitrogen oxides (NOx) air pollution inside its factory. Although Tesla told the San Francisco Chronicle that the sanction was due to a malfunctioning furnace, the company was fined $1,000 for the same issue in 2013.

Nitrogen oxides known as NOx, are poisonous gases often emitted by fossil-fuel burning cars, trucks, tractors and boats or industrial processes like power generation. NOx human health impacts include breathing problems, headaches, chronically reduced lung function, eye irritation, loss of appetite, and corroded teeth.

To supposedly reduce nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions, California-based Tesla receives government subsidies of $2,500 Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) tax credit for every all-electric Model S, Model X and Model 3 purchased in the state. Combined with federal ZEV subsidies of $7,500 per vehicle, Tesla has received about $1 billion in ZEV credits.

Tesla has tried to blame the issue on the NUMMI, a joint venture between General Motors and Toyota Motor Corp. The joint-venture sold their Fremont plant and equipment to Tesla for $42 million in 2010.

A Tesla spokesman emailed reporters claiming the company inherited the problems from GM: “The majority of these violations were resolved by Tesla four years ago when we proactively brought the issue to the attention of the District.” But despite a complete rehabilitation, Tesla was fined $1,000 for the same NOx issue in 2013.

But the BAAQMD release claims the $139,500 fine and settlement covers a series of violations from 2013 through 2016. Tesla also agreed to install about $93,000 worth of solar panels at the Silicon Valley Boys and Girls Club in San Jose.

“Although Tesla develops electric vehicles and related technologies that California needs to address global climate change, the company still must comply with all their permit conditions,” said Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the Air District. “Air quality improves when industries abide by their emissions limits and the public does their part to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.”

Tesla has long been under fire by conservatives for mining government subsidies for the rich that can afford the $90,000 price tag for a new Model S sedan or Model X SUV.

But progressives are increasingly complaining that its vehicle’s so-called embodied carbon, which is a measure of the energy needed to build its vehicles, is too high.

Salon argued last year that Tesla’s still has significant carbon emissions with its “extraction and processing of raw materials, and shipping parts and vehicles across oceans in filthy bunker-fuel burning cargo ships. Every time you roll off the dealer’s lot in a new set of wheels — electrified or not — your personal carbon footprint grows immensely.”

It is estimated that the manufacture of a U.S. standard midsize sedan generates 17 metric tons of carbon dioxide, about the equivalent of 3-years of electricity consumed per household. But the U.S. Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that it takes about 15 percent more embodied carbon to produce an electric vehicle, due to the materials and fabrication processes used to make very large battery packs.

This article was originally published by Breitbart.com/California

Could oil firms be forced to pay for climate change in California?

Porter Ranch gas leakThe Bay Area city of Richmond recently made an unlikely move that got the attention of its largest employer and taxpayer, Chevron.

It followed other municipalities and counties across California that have filed lawsuits against oil companies, alleging that the energy giants knowingly contributed to climate change and should begin paying for it. Literally.

Employing the legal strategy that brought states major payouts from tobacco companies decades ago, the plaintiffs are demanding that oil interests begin writing checks to protect Californians against rising seas, crippling drought and harmful air.

The legal viability of the lawsuits is unclear; the cases are in early stages. But if any succeed, the implications are profound: The state is already spending hundreds of millions of dollars to shore up coastlines, protect infrastructure and retrofit roads and bridges in response to rising seas. And if companies are persuaded to drill and refine less oil, California has a much better chance of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions on the schedule it has set.

Besides Richmond, plaintiffs include the cities of Imperial Beach, Oakland, Santa Cruz and San Francisco and the counties of Marin, San Mateo and Santa Cruz. The Los Angeles City Council is considering its own suit.

 The state has not joined in, something environmental groups say is a failure of leadership.

“Accountability is critical,” said Kassie Siegel, director of the Climate Law Institute at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The state of California can and should file a case seeking money damages and also an injunction against ongoing activities.”

The California Department of Justice has sued the Trump administration two dozen times over policies that include several related to the environment. Asked whether the state would join the cities and counties or consider filing its own suit against the oil companies, the Justice Department declined to comment about potential future action.

The city-county suits began six months ago when Imperial Beach, in southern San Diego County, sued a handful of oil companies. Richmond, surrounded on three sides by water and imperiled by rising seas, joined the fight Jan. 22. Its city council voted unanimously to sue 29 oil producers, even if it meant taking on Chevron, whose tax payments—$45 million in 2016—account for 25 percent of the city’s general fund.

“They are a pretty important corporate citizen,” said Richmond Mayor Tom Butt.

However, “we are a waterfront city—Richmond has 32 miles of shoreline on the Bay. Part of our city is vulnerable to sea-level rise: our transportation systems, neighborhoods and commercial areas and thousands of acres of waterfront park.”

Among those vulnerable venues is Chevron’s refinery, which sits at the edge of San Francisco Bay. Completed in 1902, this refinery, the state’s largest, was immediately dubbed “the colossus.” The facility today employs more than 3,400 people.

Leah Casey, the spokeswoman for Chevron’s Richmond refinery, said in a statement that lawsuits like the local ones “will do nothing to address the serious issue of climate change. Reducing greenhouse-gas emissions is a global issue that requires global engagement.”

Butt said the city sued “out of frustration, because I know that these fossil fuel companies are aware of the long-term costs and damage of the widespread consumption of fossil fuel.” He said Richmond was already planning for the sea’s rise but had not yet calculated mitigation costs.

The suits are filed in state court under California’s public-nuisance law, which allows legal actions against activities that are “injurious to health.”

New York City filed a similar claim against five of the world’s largest oil companies in federal court, asking that the cost of mitigating damage done by the companies as a result of their contribution to climate change be charged to them.

The legal challenges also assert that the oil industry has known for decades that burning fossil fuels accelerates climate change. The Richmond complaint states, “The industry has known for decades that business-as-usual combustion of their products could be ‘severe’ or even ‘catastrophic.’

“Companies were so certain of the threat that some even took steps to protect their own assets from rising seas and more extreme storms,” the complaint goes on, “and they developed new technologies to profit from drilling in a soon-to-be-ice-free Arctic. Yet instead of taking steps to reduce the threat to others, the industry actually increased production while spending billions on public relations, lobbying, and campaign contributions to hide the truth.”

The slow unraveling of the decades-long industry cover-up of the medical harm from cigarettes turned the tide in the tobacco cases, according to Ann Carlson, an environmental law professor at the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law.

Carlson, who is advising some of the plaintiffs’ lawyers, said that courts will take into account the oil-industry-funded campaign to discredit climate science.

“That matters in California,” she said. “If you can show evidence that a defendant engaged in a campaign to obfuscate, it’s more than just a nice detail. Evidence helps.”

With much at stake, oil companies are pushing back hard. ExxonMobil has responded with a demand to depose lawyers representing the California cities and counties.

The company says it is a victim of a conspiracy and cities and counties are being disingenuous: When they issue municipal bonds, they portray risk from climate change as unpredictable, not the fault of oil firms, as the lawsuits claim.

The companies have also filed motions to move the cases to federal courts, where they believe there are precedents more favorable to them.

The number of the legal claims intended to monetize the consequences of a warming planet is growing. Carlson said greater scientific certainty about attributing climate change impacts to specific industries and companies has created a legal opening.

“The courts were uncomfortable that they couldn’t trace the harm,” she said.

California is the epicenter of so-called climate-attribution science, said Peter Frumhoff, director of science and policy for the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“There’s really a quite robust ability to characterize the extent to which climate change impacts have worsened,” he said.

Further, by collating data taken from oil companies’ annual accounting and national and international energy agencies’ reports, “one can then connect the dots and assign a cost. That tees up the question, ‘Who is responsible and who should pay?’ ” Frumhoff said.

“This is where the science is taking us, with increasing specificity and confidence.”

This article was originally published by CalMatters.org

The Hidden Agenda of Extreme Environmentalism

We live in the most expensive state in America, and it is completely the result of political choices made by the California legislature. Across all sectors – oil, gas, electricity, water and housing – environmentalist arguments prevail. But there is a hidden agenda that most sincere environmentalists still don’t recognize. An agenda that pursues profit and power, instead of practical environmentalism that balances the interests of the planet with the interests of the people.

Even Gov. Brown has refused to support a ban on fracking in California. Moreover, there are reserves of oil and gas in California that don’t require fracking. Using slant drilling, for example (a technology that didn’t exist back in the 1970’s when offshore oil drilling was banned), you can access natural gas reserves in the Santa Barbara Channel from land based rigs. But fossil fuel development is only one issue that ought to be up for debate.

San OnofreWhat about nuclear power? The technology has come a long way in the last fifty years. Even if coastal reactors are considered too dangerous, why not build some in geologically stable areas inland? There’s plenty of land in the Mojave Desert where nuclear power plants could be sited. And what about desalination? It’s only too costly if you consider California prices – artificially inflated – they build desalination plants in Israel for one quarter the price per output. Why can’t we?

What about water storage – what about the proposed Sites and Temperance Flats reservoirs? What about sewage reuse? Californians produce about 3 million acre feet of sewage each year, much of which is cleaned and poured into the ocean, when if we cleaned it a bit more we could reuse it.

What about housing? California’s a supposed sanctuary state, inviting millions of people in. Where are they going to live? Why do you think, even in the inland valleys, homes are priced at $400,000 or more (usually much more)? Do you actually think homes need to cost this much?

All of this is contrived, artificial, politically created scarcity. And it is making a lot of people filthy rich, while it makes life very difficult for 90%+ of California’s residents – old and young, regardless of ethnicity or immigration status.

Environmentalists in California act like they have all the answers. They are arrogant and selective in the facts they use. What about all the embodied energy in wind and solar installations? Do we ever hear about the payback periods for all the energy it took to build that stuff? What about the impact when taking into account the need for natural gas peaking plants that have to spin into action every time the sun goes behind a cloud or the wind dies down? What about the difficulty in storing intermittent energy, or the fact that sourcing rare earth metals for electric car batteries is causing environmental havoc all over the planet?

One might assume that of someone holds these positions they must not care about the environment, but if so they’d be wrong. We need an honest discussion about these issues, without ceding the discussion to environmentalist trial lawyers, phony “green” entrepreneurs, and oligarchs who control the artificially scarce supplies of entitled land, housing, electricity, gas, and water. Because they just want to keep things the way they are so they can continue to make money.

There’s two sides to this story.

California Environmentalists Now Want to Ban Plastic Straws

As reported by the Orange County Register:

Plastic shopping bags are so 2016.

The new trendy target for those who want to reduce the stream of plastic flowing into our oceans, beaches and parks, is something smaller – plastic straws.

And since November, when California voters agreed to ban plastic bags from supermarkets and other retailers, people who want similar restrictions on straws have a realistic goal.

It’s why a growing number of organizations – some in California, some around the world – are working to reduce or eliminate the number of plastic straws in our daily lives. Some businesses, along with people who oppose government rules on things like plastics, are among those offering opposition to the push, but many other groups are taking steps to reduce straws. …

Click here to read the full story

California Legislature to Make Obama-Era Environmental Regs State Law

CA-legislatureThe Democrat-controlled California Legislature is moving to memorialize into state law all of former President Barack Obama’s environmental rules and regulations.

Democrats in the California State Assembly and Senate are proposing legislation that, if passed and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, would codify the federal air, water and endangered species standards at the end of President Obama’s administration into state law, according to a report by Politico.

Led by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León and other Democrats in his caucus, the bills would require California regulators to maintain air and water pollution standards that are at least as stringent as federal law required when President Obama left office last month.

The legislation would not only require that California mandate protections for the 1,276 species currently on the U.S. Endangered Species Act list, but it would also extend state protections to “threatened” species, Politico explains.

The proposed California state legislation would also seek to interfere with the Trump administration’s plan for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to begin leasing some of the 15.2 million acres of federal lands in California to private developers for oil drilling, logging and other purposes. To further frustrate those leasing efforts, Democratic lawmakers are also expected to propose that the California State Lands Commission shall have the first right of first refusal for any BLM transactions in the state.

De León and California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon announced in a joint statement on January 4 that the state legislature’s Democrats intended to litigate disputes with the incoming Trump administration by hiring former Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. as an outside legal counsel, according to NPR.

Governor Jerry Brown warned the incoming Republican administration, according to NPR, “We’ve got the scientists, we’ve got the lawyers, and we’re ready to fight. … We’re ready to defend. California is no stranger to this fight.”

This piece was originally published by Breitbart.com/California