Newsom’s Historic Climate Package Fails to Deliver Action on Fossil Fuels

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Sacramento, CA — Amid the backdrop of trees swathed in tarps to protect them from the wildfires raging across Northern California, Governor Newsom signed a $15 billion climate package — the heftiest investment in the country. Despite the evocative setting and emphasis on climate change’s role in wildfires, however, the Governor made no mention of immediate action on phasing out fossil fuels. 

Food & Water Watch’s California Director Alexandra Nagy issued this statement in response: 

“Governor Newsom’s $15 billion climate package is impressive in its scope and emphasis on electrification and fire prevention, but it lacks the ultimate fire prevention method: stopping new permits for the drilling of fossil fuels. There can be no discussion of resiliency in the face of wildfires without stopping the rampant expansion of fossil fuel drilling and infrastructure immediately. Under Newsom’s administration over 9,000 oil and gas permits have been granted to fossil fuel companies, directly fueling the flames of these scorching wildfires. Governor Newsom is absolutely correct in his assertion that our climate crisis has accelerated to the point where wildfire season is all year round. But leaving out such a key climate change accelerator as fossil fuels from the most ambitious climate package in the country is wildly shortsighted.”

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Contact: Jessica Gable, (202) 683-2478, [email protected]

New Mexico Lawmakers and Environmentalists Demand Senators Heinrich and Luján End Fossil Fuel Subsidies

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Santa Fe, NM – Nearly a month after delivering a letter to New Mexico Sens. Martin Heinrich (D) and Ben Ray Luján (D), lawmakers and environmental advocates held a press conference to demand a response from the senators and a commitment to oppose the inclusion of fossil fuel subsidies in the federal budget reconciliation package. 

President Joe Biden has proposed repealing the $121 billion in subsidies from the federal government to the fossil fuel industries, but the bill currently moving through the House of Representatives features no such cuts. While both Senators Heinrich and Luján have acknowledged that New Mexico must move away from relying on the oil and gas industry for state revenue, they have yet to openly support the President’s initiative. 

“It is untenable to continue providing free kickbacks to the fossil fuel industry in the middle of a climate crisis that they are responsible for fueling,” Food & Water Watch Senior Organizer Margaret Wadsworth said. “Senators Henrich and Luján know the importance of transitioning New Mexico’s economy away from fossil fuel dependence. Subsidies offer a dangerous prop to an industry that is not only contributing to global warming and usurping water resources, but also holding New Mexico back from a just recovery.”

The letter laid out why the myriad organizations support a pause on fracking and includes a well documented list of serious public health concerns that include increased risk for cancer and pregnancy complications. New research from Food & Water Watch confirms these heavy costs of fracking, borne disproportionately by frontline communities that are often rural, lower income and/or communities of color. New Mexico is the second-largest oil-producing state in the country and also one of the poorest states in the nation.

“To help the oil and gas industry right now just seems so counter to our values, not only as New Mexicans, but as Americans,” said New Mexico State Representative Andrea Romero D-46. “We are in a very tough position as legislators because it is such a big moneymaker for our state. We definitely need to get out of that and we should certainly not be subsidizing the businesses that continue to harm our communities and our environment. We need to find better ways to spend that money and reinvest into the people of New Mexico and not to the folks that are causing the problems.”

Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter Organizer Miya King-Flaherty: “Fossil fuel subsidies were designed to lower the costs of production, but they don’t account for the direct impacts to the environment, to public health, and to our air and water quality, and they serve to encourage more development that historically harms marginalized and poor communities of color. This perpetuates the cycle of sacrifice zones. In New Mexico, communities in the Greater Chaco region and the Permian experience public health impacts and other environmental harms directly caused by fossil fuel extraction.”

The United Nations’ International Panel on Climate Change’s latest report issued a dire warning, indicating the climate is warming faster than initially anticipated and zeroing in on fossil fuel emissions as a primary culprit. 

“The oil and gas in the ground on state and federal lands belongs to the ultimate sovereigns: the people,” said Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez D-16. “It does not belong to the corporations who make money by exploiting this resource. Historically, oil and gas were seen as part of the nation’s energy policy with the idea that pursuing oil and gas was what was best for the nation. But we know now that oil and gas drilling and combustion are contributing greatly to climate change. And this is not climate change anymore, but rather a climate crisis.” 

“This should not be a difficult position for our Senators to take,” said Raena Garcia, Fossil Fuels and Lands Campaigner with Friends of the Earth. “In fact, they’ve already pledged to repeal fossil fuel subsidies in the past. In 2008, Senator Luján called for repealing Big Oil subsidies in order to pay for investments in renewables. Senator Heinrich also called for ending these subsidies in 2015 and has a similar track record for voting for Big Oil subsidy repeal. We need ambitious climate policy if we are going to achieve a sustainable future. And when we are looking for revenue to invest in our future, these Big Oil handouts should be the first thing on the chopping block.”

Watch the full press conference HERE.

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Contact: Jessica Gable, (202) 683-2478, [email protected]

Environmental Advocates Claim Newsom Win As Victory For Climate Action

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Sacramento, CA — Fresh from a victory against numerous Republican contenders in the fourth gubernatorial recall election of our nation’s history, Governor Gavin Newsom faces renewed calls from environmentalists to address the climate crisis by stopping all new fossil fuel permits, ending fossil fuel drilling and instituting immediate buffer zones between drill operations and community sites. 

Food & Water Watch’s California Director Alexandra Nagy released this statement in response to the election: 

“Governor Newsom’s victory belongs to the environmental activists and constituents who delivered their support when it mattered most. Now Newsom must return that support to Californians in the midst of this climate crisis. Newsom has taken small but encouraging steps to phase out fracking — without which he surely would not have enjoyed the critical support of so many Californians who are demanding real climate action. But the crisis is deepening faster than Newsom is acting. Wildfires made worse and droughts lengthened by a warming planet point to one obvious solution: stop new fossil fuel permits, phase out fossil fuels immediately and institute 2,500-foot buffers between drill operations and community sites. Governor Newsom’s fight isn’t over because our fight isn’t over. We must protect our planet and our people from fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure expansions. It’s time to follow the guidance of scientists all over the world and end oil and gas drilling now.”

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Contact: Jessica Gable, (202) 683-2478, [email protected]

City Council Votes to Move LA to 100% Carbon-Free Energy By 2035

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Los Angeles, CA — The vote to move Los Angeles to 100 percent renewable energy by 2035 represents the most ambitious timeline for a public-owned utility to make the transition to carbon-free power. In a unanimous vote, the City Council directed the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) to include a scenario for carbon-free energy by 2035 in its Strategic Long Term Resource Plan (SLTRP). The City Council also passed its Green Hiring Plan, ensuring that high-paying green jobs are prioritized in the transition to clean energy.

“Los Angeles is leading California on the road to renewable energy,” said Food & Water Watch Senior Organizer Jasmin Vargas. “The vote by the City Council requiring LADWP to create a plan to power L.A. with 100 percent clean energy by 2035 is nothing short of groundbreaking. The next step for our city is clear. LADWP must follow the demands of the community and abandon its reliance on fossil fuels and false solutions like methane gas from factory farms or hydrogen. As the largest public owned utility in the country, LADWP works for us and it’s about time they take our lead.”

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Contact: Jessica Gable, (202) 683-2478, [email protected]

1,400 Petitions Urge Gov. Brown to Deny Easterday’s Mega-Dairy Permit

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

Salem, OR – At a virtual press conference hosted by the Stand Up to Factory Farms Coalition, experts and activists joined in urging Governor Brown to deny Cole Easterday’s application for a mega-dairy on the site of the former Lost Valley Farm. Earlier today, members of the coalition delivered more than 1,400 petitions to Governor Brown calling on her to deny the Easterday permit. 

“Eastern Oregon does not need another mega-polluting mega-dairy,” said Kristina Beggen, Organizer with the Stand Up to Factory Farms Coalition. “Governor Brown has an opportunity to listen to the voices of her constituents who don’t want mega-dairies in their communities. The transfer of ownership from Cody Easterday to Cole Easterday makes no difference. Mega-dairies produce climate disrupting methane emissions, no matter who operates them. Oregon can’t afford climate change accelerants, nor can its communities afford to have their scarce water resources hijacked or polluted by mega-dairies. Governor Brown must deny this application for the sake of Oregon’s climate and communities.”

The influx of mega-dairies has correlated with a dramatic decline in the number of family-scale dairy farms in operation in Oregon. In a span of 17 years, their numbers decreased by more than 85 percent from 1,900 to 228.

“Small farmers certainly won’t benefit from the introduction of another mega-dairy into Oregon’s agricultural landscape,” said Amy Wong, Policy Director at Friends of Family Farmers. “In just ten years, the number of cows in Oregon has grown 14-fold thanks to mega-dairies, making it harder for sustainable, smaller dairies to survive. Hundreds of Oregon’s small dairies were driven out of business in part by the market being flooded with cheap mega-dairy milk that doesn’t take environmental and other externalities into account. If Governor Brown denies Easterday’s permit, she can set an example of sustainable agriculture and climate leadership for other states to follow.”

The coalition also delivered a letter bearing the signatures of 21 organizations representing more than 120,000 Oregonians to the Governor, similarly urging her to deny Cole Easterday’s permit. The letter outlines concerns around the prospective facility’s methane emissions and impact on climate change as well as groundwater contamination from nitrates, already detected in the site’s soil and identified by ODA as a threat to groundwater sources.  

“The long-held narrative from Oregon officials that Lost Valley Farm and its hundreds of permit violations was simply ‘one bad actor’ is blatantly false,” said Mackenzie Aime, Oregon Organizer with Food & Water Watch. “All mega-dairies pose a threat to Oregon’s public health and environment. Governor Brown should learn from previous mistakes and deny this permit outright to protect our water and the health of frontline communities.”

“As the West continues to face drought conditions, only to worsen as a result of climate change, it’s unconscionable that officials are even considering providing permits to mega-dairies that will jeopardize the safety of Oregon’s critical groundwater supply,” said Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “We must say no to projects that will endanger the public and surrounding environment that have no justification other than to increase profits for industrial animal agriculture.”

According to a recent study, livestock production air pollution kills 12,700 people per year. Dairy operations are responsible for one third of those deaths. Mega-dairies emit ammonia, methane, particulate matter, volatile organic compounds, and hydrogen sulfide, all compounds hazardous to human health. 

“Industrial dairies use and pollute massive amounts of water, and the leakage from their animal waste lagoons leeches into groundwater, endangering the drinking water supply for all Oregonians,” said Amy Van Saun, Senior Attorney for Center for Food Safety. “Denying the Easterday permit application would send a strong message to all Oregonians: people matter more than industry profits.”

Watch and download the press conference here.

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Stand Up to Factory Farms is a coalition of local, state and national organizations concerned about the harmful impacts of mega-dairies on Oregon’s family farms, communities, the environment and animal welfare. We seek legislation or an executive order establishing a moratorium on new mega-dairies and the expansion of existing mega-dairies until policies are in place that meaningfully protect our air, water, and climate and ensure the humane treatment of animals and the economic viability of family farmers. 

Contact: Jessica Gable, (202) 683-2478, [email protected]

CalGEM Denies 14 More of Aera’s Fracking Permits Citing Public Health And Climate Concerns

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Sacramento, CA — CalGEM has denied 14 more fracking permit applications of Aera Energy, citing concerns about the impacts to climate and public health. Governor Newsom has faced increasing pressure to speed up the timeline to ban fracking, which currently remains 2024. 

“Another denial of 14 fracking permits is a victory for frontline communities and all of California,” said Food & Water Watch’s California Director Alexandra Nagy. “Every day we have fresh evidence of the devastating impact of a warming climate and the need to stop fossil fuel extraction once and for all. CalGEM is denying these fracking permits for all the right reasons. The next move for Governor Newsom is clear: we must end fracking and oil drilling now and institute 2,500 foot safety buffers immediately to protect our frontline communities. California’s future depends on our Governor taking this essential next step.”

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Contact: Jessica Gable, (202) 683-2478, [email protected]

Dixie Fire Now Worst Single-Source Wildfire in California’s History

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Sacramento, CA — While the Dixie Fire burned its way to the top of a long list of horrific California wildfires, the International Panel on Climate Change released a much-anticipated working group report that predicts the world’s temperatures will rise beyond the tipping point of 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius) in 2030 — ten years earlier than initially forecast. 

“Californians are faced with a sobering reality,” said Food & Water Watch’s California Director Alexandra Nagy. “While the Dixie Fire takes its place as the worst single-source wildfire the state has ever seen, we know it will likely not be the worst we will ever see. Fossil fuels are driving climate change and priming California for ever more catastrophic fires, and the recent IPCC report makes plain what science has already told us — we need urgent action to phase out fossil fuels to prevent a future choked by global warming. The Dixie Fire’s devastation is only a preview of climate change’s inevitable conclusion if we do nothing. Governor Newsom has the opportunity to lead Californians away from that grim reality by immediately banning fracking, stopping all fossil fuel expansions, and phasing out oil drilling.”

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Contact: Jessica Gable, (202) 683-2478, [email protected]

CPUC Hears Criticism On Aliso Canyon, PG&E and Regulatory Failure From Frontline Communities

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

San Francisco, CA — Today, the California Public Utilities Commission heard comments from frontline communities and organizations on the agency’s failure to stop the proposed increase in gas storage from SoCalGas at Aliso Canyon, needless expansion of a SoCalGas compressor station in Ventura, and its inaction after PG&E’s admission of culpability in the Dixie Fire. Members of frontline communities from Playa Del Rey, Ventura and Aliso Canyon joined their voices to demand the transition to clean energy and denial of SoCalGas’ request to expand storage at Aliso Canyon. 

“The California Public Utilities Commission has failed frontline communities for too long, prioritizing profit-seeking utility interests over public health and environmental justice,” said Food & Water Watch California Director Alexandra Nagy. “SoCalGas is requesting more storage capacity in direct contradiction of Governor Newsom’s order to shut the facility down after the country’s most catastrophic gas blowout. Allegiance to for-profit utilities like SoCalGas and PG&E stands in direct opposition to public welfare and environmental justice. These utilities must be held accountable for their contribution to widespread sickness and climate change-fueled wildfires. The CPUC has a clear opportunity to show its commitment to the public health of California residents by breaking this allegiance and denying SoCalGas’ expansion of Aliso Canyon, ordering an Environmental Impact Review for its expansion of an unnecessary gas compressor in Ventura, and beginning the transition to public power by disciplining and dismantling PG&E.”

SoCalGas is also undertaking a massive expansion of its gas compressor site in Ventura’s Westside neighborhood — a location already plagued with decades of pollution and environmental justice violations. While the CPUC committed to sending a letter requiring SoCalGas to hold a public forum and explain the details of its gas compressor expansion, the agency made no mention of the Environmental Impact Review demanded by the community, which has also formed coalitions to oppose the facility expansion. 

“The community is forcing public forums to be held,” said Ventura resident Margot Davis. “They have the unanimous support of their City Council, School Board members, State Assembly members, and they have corporate funding support. They’re trying to do the job this commission is charged to do. Wake up. Rein in SoCalGas.”

PG&E has also gone without a response from the CPUC after its admission that it probably bears responsibility for the Dixie Fire, now the 6th largest wildfire in California’s history.

Pete Woiwode with the Reclaim Our Power Utility Justice Campaign compared the CPUC’s response to PG&E’s involvement in the start of wildfires with the tepid response of lawmakers after shootings prompt discussions of gun control, “We want more than thoughts and prayers. We want action. And you are empowered to do so. We demand that you hold PG&E accountable, reject their safety certificate, and move us closer to an energy system run by the people, not Wall St. We need you all to take your responsibility seriously.”

Ten hours elapsed between the time PG&E recognized its culpability in the fire and the time it notified CalFire. The CPUC is tasked with regulating privately owned gas companies and promoting the “access to safe, clean, and affordable utility services and infrastructure.”

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Contact: Jessica Gable, (202) 683-2478, [email protected]

PG&E Admits It May Have Contributed to Dixie Fire

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Sacramento, CA — At a meeting with regulatory agencies, investor-owned utility PG&E admitted it could bear some responsibility for the rapidly spreading Dixie Fire in Plumas and Butte counties. Now the 8th largest fire in California’s history, the fire has forced evacuations, burned through 274,139 acres and destroyed 45 buildings as of this morning.

“PG&E’s admission that it could bear responsibility for the Dixie Fire is yet another reason for the CPUC to put control of utilities back in the hands of California communities,” said Food & Water Watch’s California Director Alexandra Nagy. “While our climate warms and our drought worsens, we cannot afford any more mismanagement from PG&E that leads to catastrophic wildfires like the Dixie Fire. Investor-owned utilities like PG&E are motivated by profit, not by the public good, and have zero incentive to transition to safer, climate friendly energy infrastructure like local solar or battery storage. It’s time for an equitable energy transition that leaves no one out and protects all communities from PG&E’s mismanagement. It’s time for energy democracy. We call on the California Public Utilities Commission to hold PG&E accountable and begin the process of giving control of their energy decisions back to California’s communities.”

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Contact: Jessica Gable, (202) 683-2478, [email protected]

CalGEM Denies 42 Fracking Permits of State’s Largest Drilling Company

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Sacramento, CA — Less than a month after denying all of Aera Energy’s fracking permits, CalGEM denied 42 of California Resources Production Corporation’s applications for fracking operations. The agency, however, cited missing application materials for the denial, making no mention of risks to public health and safety, environmental quality and climate change cited in the previous permit denial of Aera Energy.

In May, Governor Newsom directed CalGEM to come up with a plan to accept no new fracking permits by 2024. Despite pressure from environmental groups to speed up the process, he has thus far maintained the 2024 timeline.

“It’s encouraging to see CalGEM denying more fracking permits, particularly as California weathers a devastating drought and wildfire season induced by climate change,” said Food & Water Watch’s California Director Alexandra Nagy. “This is progress. But make no mistake, it is not enough. Governor Newsom must direct CalGEM to end fracking and all well stimulation now, not in two and a half years. Fracking and well stimulation permits are just a subset of oil drilling permits approved by the Newsom administration. Our climate cannot wait and neither can the communities across California sickened by air and water pollution. It’s time for Governor Newsom to take up the mantle of climate leadership that would make California an example for other states. It’s time to end fracking now and stop all new permits for oil and gas drilling.”

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Contact: Jessica Gable, (202) 683-2478, [email protected]