Mike Gaworecki's blog

California Finally Declares State Of Emergency Over Methane Leak That Forced Evacuation Of Thousands

Methane first started leaking from Southern California Gas Co.’s Aliso Canyon storage facility on October 23, two and a half months ago.

More than 2,300 homes have been evacuated in nearby Porter Ranch, a suburb of Los Angeles, and many more people are reportedly applying for help relocating after suffering nosebleeds, rashes, headaches and other serious health impacts due to the gas leak and the sulfuric stench permeating their home town.

DeSmog first reported on the Aliso Canyon gas leak and the unfolding public health crisis in Porter Ranch on December 11, while California Governor Jerry Brown was in Paris attending COP21 to burnish his credentials as a climate leader.

By December 22, the California Air Resources Board estimates, as much as 66,000 metric tons of methane, a greenhouse gas that scientists believe to be as much as 35-times more potent than carbon dioxide (though it doesn’t persist in the atmosphere as long as CO2), had escaped from the well.

California Governor Jerry Brown’s Climate Credentials In Question As Massive Methane Leak Threatens Public Health

California Governor Jerry Brown was in Paris this week at the COP21 climate talks burnishing his credentials as a climate leader.

Which has a lot of folks back home wondering: Why isn't Governor Brown using his authority to declare a state of emergency to protect the health of Californians currently endangered by the Sempra Energy methane leak at Porter Ranch?

At Tuesday’s High Level Assembly of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, Gov. Brown talked tough about his efforts to “dramatically lower” emissions of short-lived climate pollutants, including methane.

“This is probably the most immediate challenge, and the most important thing to do leaving this conference,” Brown said at the event. “Short-lived climate pollutants are something we can tackle.”

And yet, back in the Golden State, a methane leak at Sempra Energy subsidiary Southern California Gas Co.’s Aliso Canyon storage facility has been spewing massive amounts of gas for well over a month and making residents in the San Fernando Valley community of Porter Ranch sick. Hundreds of residents have already been relocated due to health issues associated with the methane leak.

Coal Baron Don Blankenship Found Guilty Of Conspiring To Violate Mine Safety Standards

The verdict is in: Don Blankenship, the outspoken coal baron who was CEO of Massey Energy when the 2010 Upper Big Branch disaster in West Virginia claimed the lives of 29 coal miners, has been found guilty of conspiring to violate federal mine safety standards.

It’s a small measure of justice for the families of the fallen miners who packed the front row of the courthouse to hear Judge Irene C. Berger read the verdict.

Blankenship is facing a maximum fine of $250,000 and a sentence of one year in prison on the misdemeanor conspiracy charge. He’ll be sentenced this spring.

Here Are The Corporate Foxes In The COP21 Henhouse

Top corporate sponsors of the climate talks in Paris have long histories of destroying the environment and interfering in environmental policymaking that are at odds with the green image they’re seeking to project by being part of COP21.

Global banking giant BNP Paribas, French utility Électricité de France (EDF) and fossil fuel conglomerates Engie (formerly GDF Suez) and Suez Environnement, all official COP21 sponsors, are the focus of a new report from Corporate Accountability International that details the companies’ environmental abuses and aggressive lobbying efforts to undermine environmental and climate policy.

All four either directly own or have investments in some of the most emissions-intensive energy projects in the world, from oil sands in Canada to fracking in the UK and coal-fired power in India — conflicts of interest that make it impossible for them to contribute meaningfully to any sound climate policy, the report’s authors argue.

Divestment Movement Hits Major Milestone As World Leaders Debate Climate Action In Paris

More than 500 institutions that manage $3.4 trillion in assets have now committed to divesting holdings in fossil fuels, divestment campaign groups announced today in Paris.

As recently as September 2014, just 181 institutions managing $50 billion in assets had made some sort of divestment commitment.

350.org and Divest-Invest, two of the key groups organizing the divestment movement, announced the new additions to the growing list of divestors this morning in Paris at the UN COP21 climate negotiations.

New Study Exposes True Extent, Influence Of Climate Denial Echo Chamber For First Time

Thanks to a recent poll from ABC News and the Washington Post, we know that nearly two-thirds of American adults think global warming is “a serious problem facing the country.”

And now, thanks to a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change (full study available at this link), we know exactly how many people are out there taking money from dirty energy interests to try and confuse Americans about climate changeto derail overdue action and protect the fossil fuel industries' profits.

Justin Farrell, a professor of sociology at Yale’s School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and the author of the report, studied both the institutional and social network structure of the climate denier movement and found that there are some 4,556 individuals with ties to 164 organizations that are involved in pushing anti-climate science views on the public.

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