SACRAMENTO – The Air Resources Board has announced nearly $1 million in penalties against three companies for late or inaccurate reporting of their greenhouse gas emissions for 2011. This action marks the second time the Air Resources Board has issued fines for violations of California’s Mandatory Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting regulation.
One year ago Tuesday, a fire at Chevron’s Richmond oil refinery sent black smoke wafting across the East Bay.
Contra Costa Health Services asked residents to stay in their homes, close the windows, and wait it out. About 11,000 people sought medical treatment. Many suffered from eye, nasal and throat irritations that were short-lived. For those with pre-existing asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, their cough and shortness of breath increased dramatically, sometimes for extended periods.
This refinery fire was a dramatic demonstration that air pollution is bad for our health. A more compelling concern is the evidence that chronic, low-level exposure to air pollution has serious long-lasting adverse effects, including stunting of lung growth and increasing asthma among children, premature death in those with chronic lung diseases, and heart attacks.
California is a leader on the renewable energy front: utilities are well on their way to meeting the 33 percent RPS mandate, rooftop solar power is growing like crazy, and there are big desires to electrify transportation via High Speed Rail.
But a new report, released by the nonprofit, nonpartisan group Next 10, notes that a variety of policies keep California locked into a transportation system that is largely dependent on oil. Part of it is sheer size: there are 35,209,430 registered motor vehicles in the state.
An independent panel of scientific experts today reaffirmed that an oil industry association’s study of California’s landmark clean energy law (AB32), in particular the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, was flawed on a number of fronts, saying it did not “include a full accounting of the economic impacts, or the health and welfare impacts of the legislation on the broader population and economy of the state,” such as “positive effects on the health and welfare of the citizens of California that could result from the implementation of AB32.”
The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers contracted with the Policy Institute to facilitate an expert evaluation of the report “Understanding the Impacts of AB32” and the subsequent analysis “BCG and CARB LCFS Models: Review of impact of assumptions in three different areas”. These original reports were funded by WSPA and produced by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG).
The stated scope and goals of the BCG report are as follows:
“We analyzed the likely impact of AB32 fuels policies on emissions and refining economics using proprietary BCG models. We then developed a framework to assess how these changes are likely to impact California’s economy along key dimensions including employment, government revenues, and GHG emissions.”
If you have been following events in California, oil refiners have been waging a well-funded war on California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard, which requires oil companies to reduce the carbon pollution from gasoline and diesel by 10 percent by 2020.
Centerpiece in their strategy was a June 2012 report from Boston Consulting Group (funded by the Western States Petroleum Association) that concluded that a full and continued implementation of the LCFS would leave refiners “no other option but to refuse to supply the United State’s largest transportation fuels market or to simply shut-down.”
Chevron Corp. (CVX) helped write the first-in-the-nation rule ordering reduced carbon emissions from cars and trucks. Its biofuels chief spoke at the ceremony where California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the executive order in 2007, the same year the oil company pledged to develop a gasoline replacement from wood.
Now Chevron is leading a lobbying and public relations campaign to undercut the California mandate aimed at curbing global warming, two years after the state started phasing it in. Research on commercially viable climate-friendly products has come to naught, stymied by the poor economics of coaxing hydrocarbons from plants’ stubborn cell walls, according to Chevron officials.
Who knew that being a smoggy place might be good for business?
Gov. Jerry Brown is in China, and one of the things he’s pitching is California’s expertise in dealing with smog. Because if there’s one thing we have in common with the Chinese, it’s air pollution.
Now, some of what Brown is doing is, well, kind of squishy. As my colleague Anthony York reported:
On Wednesday, he held a private meeting with Environmental Protection Minister Zhou Shengxian. They signed a nonbinding agreement “to enhance cooperation on reducing air pollution,” the first such accord between China’s government and a U.S. state and one of several Brown is scheduled to secure while here.
Under the pact, California will help China set up institutions to regulate air quality, similar to those the state has established, and the two nations will engage in research projects “of mutual interest.”
California has a thriving clean economy. In fact, the Golden State boasted more green jobs in clean energy and transportation last year than the other top 4 states combined, according to a new report by Environmental Entrepreneurs.
An overwhelming majority of voters supports the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) setting stricter standards on gasoline and tighter emissions standards for cars, SUVs and trucks according to the American Lung Association’s latest survey.
This bipartisan telephone survey of 800 registered voters, conducted during January 13-16, 2013, finds that nearly two-thirds of voters surveyed across the country support strengthening standards that limit sulfur in gasoline and tighten the limits on tailpipe emissions from new vehicles. These revised standards would reduce pollution from cars, trucks and SUVs, would protect public health and would create jobs by encouraging innovation.