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Landmark Climate Bill Passed By California Legislature

After an intense lobbying spree and threats from Governor Jerry Brown to take the measure directly to voters via ballot initiative should it fail to pass, Senate Bill 32 (SB 32) was approved by the California legislature yesterday.

When it is signed into law by Brown, SB 32 will extend the climate targets adopted by the state under Assembly Bill 32 (AB 32), the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, which required California to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

The state is well on pace to meet the emissions targets set by AB 32, which is credited with having spurred developments that contributed $48 billion to California’s economy over the past 10 years while creating a half million jobs.

California Climate Policies a $48 Billion Boon for State’s Economy, Analysis Finds

A new analysis by a non-partisan business group finds that California’s climate policies have been a boon for the state’s economy.

Assembly Bill 32, also known as AB 32 or the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, requires California to reduce climate-cooking greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 — which meant cutting emissions about 25 percent from where they were at in 2006, when AB 32 was passed by the California State Legislature and signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

According to the analysis from Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2analysis, AB 32 and related climate policies have pumped some $48 billion into the state economy over the past decade while helping create about 500,000 jobs.

California Regulators Sued Over Plan To Turn Aquifer Into Permanent Oil Waste Dump

California regulators are facing a lawsuit over their plans to turn an underground aquifer in the Price Canyon area of San Luis Obispo County into a permanent disposal site for oilfield wastewater and other potentially dangerous fluids.

In August 2015, oil giant Freeport-McMoRan submitted an application to California’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) for state approval of its plan to exempt an aquifer in the Arroyo Grande Oil Field from federal protections so that the company could move forward with plans to drill hundreds of new wells in the area.

In turn, this past February, DOGGR officially submitted an application to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to have the aquifer exempted from protections under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

Big Oil Renewing Effort To Kill California's Landmark Climate Law

As California’s Global Warming Solutions Act, AB-32, approaches its 10th birthday, Big Oil is renewing efforts to roll it back and the governor and pro-environmental lawmakers in Sacramento are racing against the clock to counter the onslaught.

AB-32 set a 2020 target to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels. But a key part of it, the cap-and-trade program, will sunset in 2020 unless legislators and Governor Jerry Brown can come up with a new law to let it continue.

California Oil Pipeline Ruptures Hours After Obama Signs Pipeline Safety Bill

On Wednesday, June 22nd, President Obama signed the Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act of 2016 into law. The bill, known as the PIPES Act, reauthorizes the federal government to move swiftly in the event of a pipeline leak or rupture. Specifically, the Secretary of Transportation is allowed to issue emergency orders if the unthinkable happens.

The reauthorization was in response to the natural gas pipeline rupture in California where an estimated 97,000 tons of gas were released from the Aliso Canyon pipeline near Porter Ranch. The bill also includes new mandates on construction to insure the safety of future pipelines and to reduce the chances of another massive leak.

Ironically and very disturbingly, less than 24 hours after the bill was signed into law, an oil pipeline in Ventura County, California ruptured, and current estimates put the amount of oil leaked at over 29,400 gallons (down from the original estimate of over 210,000 gallons), though officials are still assessing the situation.

Oil-Funded Groups Have Spent $2.7 Million To Defeat California Candidates Who Want Climate Action

Groups funded largely by oil companies have spent $2.7 million in California to defeat candidates for the state legislature who support strong climate action.

The groups are targeting lawmakers who supported S.B. 32 and S.B. 350, both pieces of legislation designed to rein in California’s greenhouse gas emissions and boost adoption of renewable energy technologies, E&E Publishing’s Greenwire reported.

S.B. 350, which was signed into law last year by Governor Jerry Brown, requires California to get 50 percent of its electricity from renewable sources and double the energy efficiency of existing buildings by 2030. S.B. 32, which did not pass, would have required the state to cut its greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

“Oil companies are trying to push back” against renewable energy and other efforts to decarbonize California’s economy, Mike Young, California League of Conservation Voter's associate director for campaigns and organizing, told Greenwire. “You're seeing an industry that is very concerned about losing its monopoly.”

CA Officials Want To Allow Oil Industry To Dump Toxic Waste Into Aquifers, Exempt Them From Federal Protection

California officials announced on Wednesday that they will seek the exemption of as many as 60 underground aquifers from federal protections so that the oil industry can use them to dispose of toxic oilfield wastewater. 

Regulators with the state’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) said they will submit the necessary applications to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over the next four months to exempt aquifers in Monterey, Ventura, Kern and other counties from federal laws such as the Safe Drinking Water Act.

In a statement issued in response to DOGGR’s plan, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), which has put together an interactive map of the aquifers in question, noted that “Oil wastewater commonly contains cancer-causing benzene and other pollutants, according to [DOGGR]’s own testing. Flowback fluid coming out of fracked wells in California contains benzene at levels as high as 1,500 times the federal limits for drinking water, according to oil companies’ own tests.”

Oil and Gas Activities Behind Texas Earthquakes Since 1925, Scientists Conclude

If you've felt an earthquake in Texas at any point over the last four decades, odds are that quake wasn't naturally occurring, but was caused by oil and gas industry activities, according to a newly published scientific report.

Just 13 percent of Texas earthquakes larger than magnitude 3 since 1975 were the result of natural causes alone, according to scientists from the University of Texas who published their peer-reviewed paper in the journal Seismological Research Letters.

In recent years, fracking wastewater injection wells have become the primary cause of tremblors in the state, the report adds.

Burned By Slow Government Response To A Polluter, Residents Mistrust Cleanup Efforts

When residents don’t trust the company who poisoned their water and soil, and they don’t trust the government agencies mandated to stop the company, they’ll either ignore everything and hope for the best, or they’ll take matters into their own hands.

Both reactions are in abundance in Vernon, California near the site of a now-shuttered battery recycling plant now owned by Exide Technologies. Exide and the plant’s previous owners knowingly leached lead and other carcinogens into the soil, air and water in surrounding residential neighborhoods, a problem made much worse by inadequate government oversight.

State regulators repeatedly warned Exide Technologies, which ran the Vernon battery smelting facility since 2000, and its previous owners that the plant was releasing dangerous chemicals into the atmosphere. Exide responded only by paying fines and continuing business as usual.

California Lawmakers Move to Prevent Another Disastrous Gas Blowout at Aliso Canyon

On Tuesday, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 380, which requires rigorous testing protocols to prevent another disastrous blowout at the SoCal Gas Aliso Canyon facility north of Los Angeles. And lawmakers said SB 380 will buy time to fix the larger problem of weak regulations that allowed this disaster to happen.

Aliso Canyon is the largest natural gas storage facility in the western U.S. and the site of the October, 2015 blowout that spewed nearly 100,000 tons of methane into the skies above the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles for nearly four months.

The bill was co-authored by Senator Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills), and Assemblyman Scott Wilk presented SB 380 on the floor of the Assembly on April 28 and it passed both chambers with overwhelming bipartisan support.

The new law requires that all 114 wells at Aliso Canyon undergo additional tests to detect any possible leaks.

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