fossil fuels

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.”

Renewable Energy Jobs Keep Growing While Fossil Fuel Jobs Keep Shrinking

More than 8.1 million people are now employed by the renewable energy industry worldwide, an increase of five percent over last year, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

The number of renewable energy jobs worldwide went up in 2015 while jobs in the broader energy sector fell. In the United States, for example, renewable energy jobs increased six percent, but employment in oil and gas fell 18 percent.

That’s perhaps not surprising, as renewable energy continues to break records. According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), utility-scale electrical generation from renewable sources like solar and wind hit an all-time high of 16.89 percent of the country’s total electricity generation in the first quarter of 2016. During the same time period in 2015, renewable energy's share of net generation was just 14 percent. Distributed solar photovoltaic and wind energy have also continue to grow quickly, the EIA found.

Temperatures Could Rise Far More Than Previously Thought If Fossil Fuel Reserves Burned

Flooding in south Yorkshire, England.

Imagine a world where average temperatures are almost 10 degrees Celsius higher than today, an Arctic with temperatures almost 20 degrees warmer and some regions deluged with four times more rain.

That is the dramatic scenario predicted by a team of climate scientists led by the University of Victoria’s Katarzyna Tokarska, who looked at what would happen if the Earth’s remaining untapped fossil fuel reserves are burned.

Tokarska, a PhD student at UVic’s School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, used simulations from climate models looking at the relationship between carbon emissions and warming — including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report — and concluded that known fossil fuel reserves would emit the equivalent of five trillion tonnes of carbon emissions if burned.

That would result in average global temperature increases between 6.4 degrees and 9.5 degrees Celsius, with Arctic temperatures warming between 14.7 degrees and 19.5 degrees, says the paper published Monday in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change.

These results indicate that the unregulated exploitation of the fossil fuel resource could ultimately result in considerably more profound climate changes than previously suggested,” says the study.

California Regulators Are Approving Fracking Wastewater Disposal Permits Near Fault Lines

New research indicates that nearly 40 percent of new wastewater injection wells approved over the past year in California are perilously close to fault lines, increasing the risk of man-made earthquakes in the already seismically active Golden State.

The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) found that 13 out of 33, or 39 percent, of new drill permits for wastewater disposal wells issued by regulators with California’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) between April 2015 and March 2016 were for drill sites within 5 miles of a fault.

The CBD also found that 26 of the 33 rework permits for wastewater disposal wells granted by DOGGR over that same period were for wells within 5 miles of a fault. Rework permits are required when a company wants to re-drill a well or alter a well casing.

Oil Majors Told to Adapt or Die

As profits and prices plummet, the oil conglomerates – some of the world’s biggest companies – have been warned they must change their ways or face extinction, writes Kieran Cooke at Climate News Network.

At best, big oil companies such as ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron and BP face a period of gentle decline, but will ultimately survive.

At worst, if they do not adapt and change direction, “what remains of their existence will be nasty, brutish and short”.

David Suzuki: Divest from Damage and Invest in a Healthier Future

If people keep rapidly extracting and burning fossil fuels, there’s no hope of meeting the 2015 Paris Agreement climate change commitments. To ensure a healthy, hopeful future for humanity, governments must stick to their pledge to limit global warming to 1.5 or 2 C above pre-industrial levels by 2050. Many experts agree that to meet that goal, up to 80 per cent of oil, coal and gas reserves must stay in the ground. That makes fossil fuels a bad investment — what analysts call “stranded assets.”

Putting money toward things that benefit humanity, whether investing in clean energy portfolios or implementing energy-saving measures in your home or business, is better for the planet and the bottom line than sinking it into outdated industries that endanger humanity.

Groups Call On Obama To End Crude Oil Exports In Wake Of Paris Climate Agreement Signing

175 nations signed the Paris Climate Agreement last Friday, setting a record for the most countries to sign a U.N. agreement on opening day.

Earlier in the week, even before Secretary of State John Kerry officially signed on behalf of the U.S. with his granddaughter in his lap, more than 300 environmental, faith, health and social justice organizations filed a legal petition calling on the Obama Administration to declare a national emergency and end all U.S. crude oil exports as a means of meeting its commitments under the Paris Agreement.

According to the groups, led by the Center for Biological Diversity and Food & Water Watch, President Obama could immediately halt the export of crude oil under executive legal authority granted to him by the 2016 Appropriations Act and the National Emergencies Act.

Burning Fossil Fuels is Responsible for Most Sea-Level Rise Since 1970

By Aimée Slangen, Utrecht University and John Church, CSIRO

Global average sea level has risen by about 17 cm between 1900 and 2005. This is a much faster rate than in the previous 3,000 years.

The sea level changes for several reasons, including rising temperatures as fossil fuel burning increases the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. In a warming climate, the seas are expected to rise at faster rates, increasing the risk of flooding along our coasts. But until now we didn’t know what fraction of the rise was the result of human activities.

In research published in Nature Climate Change, we show for the first time that the burning of fossil fuels is responsible for the majority of sea level rise since the late 20th century.

As the amount of greenhouse gases we are putting into the atmosphere continues to increase, we need to understand how sea level responds. This knowledge can be used to help predict future sea level changes.

Calls For Permanent Closure of Aliso Canyon NatGas Storage Facility As Californians Face Blackouts

Last week, California regulators and Southern California Gas Company, which operates the Aliso Canyon Storage Facility, issued a report warning that a continued shutdown of the facility, the site of the worst methane leak in state history, would lead to blackouts throughout the summer.

The regulators and the company have proposed restarting gas injections into the Aliso Canyon facility in the coming weeks, but Porter Ranch area residents — 1,800 of whom had to be evacuated due to health impacts of the methane leak — are challenging the report’s findings and calling for permanent closure of Aliso Canyon, one of the largest gas storage facilities in the US.

Aliso Canyon has been shut down since January. The leak started in October of last year. Two and a half months later, Governor Jerry Brown finally declared a state of emergency, but it would take SoCalGas, as the company is known, another month and a half to finally stop the leak.

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