california

Regulators Helped Oil-by-Rail Company Avoid Environmental Review, California Court Rules

Oil train cars

This week, a court in California overturned a permit allowing the expansion of an oil-by-rail terminal near Bakersfield, California. The opinion from that court ruling reads like a case study for corporations looking to avoid the two biggest hurdles to getting such a project approved: environmental review and public notice and comment. 

Federal Report Slams ExxonMobil for Safety Gaps in LA Refinery Explosion, While Activists Say Risks Remain

Chemical Safety Board inspectors outside the Torrance refinery after the blast in 2015

Outdated equipment, inadequate repair procedures, and a lack of safety standards led to a 2015 chemical explosion at the ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance, California, according to a report released this week by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB). 

The explosion on the morning of February 18, 2015 released thousands of pounds of acid and caused chemical ash to rain on a heavily populated community for hours. Eight workers had to be decontaminated, and four were sent to hospitals with minor injuries.

Ex-Trump Adviser Myron Ebell’s Climate Denial Earns Open Laughs at Energy Investment Summit

Myron Ebell talks to moderator at Bloomberg Future of Energy Summit

Myron Ebell, director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and a prominent denier of climate science, found himself on the receiving end of pronounced skepticism at a Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) Summit on Monday as he denounced a broad array of targets.

“My views on climate science are that I have a very profound respect for science, so I don't have much respect for a lot of what passes as climate science,” Ebell said, prompting murmurs from a room packed with several hundred energy financiers and industry executives.

Ebell, who rocketed to national prominence when he was tapped to run Trump's Environmental Protection Agency transition team, faced laughter and some quiet jeering as he conveyed his ideas about climate change and the economy to investors gathered at the BNEF Future of Energy Summit.

California Bill Requiring Analysis of What Caused Aliso Canyon Gas Blowout Moves Ahead

People holding signs protesting Aliso Canyon and supporting SB57

More than a year and a half after the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility suffered a massive methane blowout, a California state bill that would keep the facility idled pending an exhaustive analysis of the disaster’s cause was approved Tuesday in the California Senate Energy, Communications, and Utilities Committee.

Senate Bill 57, co-authored by state Sen. Henry Stern, requires the California Public Utilities Commission and the Department of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) to complete a “root cause analysis” of the source of the October 2015 methane blowout as a condition of lifting Aliso Canyon’s moratorium on natural gas injections. 

After Los Angeles Youth Sued City for Discriminatory Drilling Practices, the Oil Industry Sued Back

Boy playing basketball at Beverly Hills High School next to a covered oil derrick

Los Angeles is a city built on oil, and even today more than a thousand derricks still pump it from the shallow reserves beneath the city. While some oil wells are camouflaged behind colorfully painted towers or bland beige structures resembling office buildings, many of them draw up crude oil in the open, surprisingly close to homes, stores, restaurants, schools, and churches. 

Every time I go to school,” 18-year-old Brandon Molina told DeSmog, “I walk by these oil drilling sites. They’re around my school. So, it’s something that I see every day.”

In LA, the number of residents living less than a mile from an oil well is in the tens of thousands. But how close you live to a drilling site may depend on the color of your skin and socioeconomic status, placing communities of color disproportionately at risk, according to a lawsuit brought by three LA youth groups against the City of LA

California Democrats Who Got Big Gifts From Oil Industry Gave Big Gifts Back

This is a guest post by David Pomerantz originally published by Energy and Policy Institute

California’s legislators received $253,771.98 in 2016 in free trips, dinners, and hotel stays from groups at least partly funded by or affiliated with companies from the oil industry, according to legislators’ financial disclosure forms released last week. The Energy and Policy Institute analyzed the disclosures, and we found a correlation between who got the most valuable gifts from Big Oil and the Democrats who voted with the oil industry the most.

With large Democratic majorities in California, the oil industry has pinned its hopes in the state on a group of so-called “moderate” Democrats that it has assiduously courted in recent years. (Republicans have tended to vote in lock-step with the oil industry.) Reporters have investigated how the oil industry has showered those Democrats with campaign contributions, but our analysis is the first that systematically looks at the gifts that oil companies and their allies have given to Democrats, in the form of free international and domestic travel, hotel stays, dinners, baseball tickets and bottles of wine and booze.

Chevron, Aera Energy Sue to Block Monterey County, California’s Voter-Approved Ban on Fracking

Anti-fracking protest in front of California state house

Last November, voters of Monterey County, California, passed a fracking ban known as Measure Z with 56 percent of the vote, despite being outspent 30-to-1 by the industry-backed group, Monterey County Citizens for Energy Independence

Passing Measure Z makes Monterey the sixth California county to ban fracking, but the first to face a serious legal challenge. 

In December, Chevron and Aera Energy, the two biggest companies drilling in Central California’s San Ardo fields, both filed lawsuits against Monterey County to block implementation of Measure Z, alleging that it restricts how they can use their property.

Oil and Gas Lobby Fights California Regulators to Keep Injecting Drilling Wastewater into Protected Aquifers

Three active oil wells in a dry California landscape

Last month the California Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR), missed its own deadline for shutting down 475 oil industry injection wells determined to be dumping toxic fluids into protected California groundwater aquifers. The division said it would continue to allow more than 1,600 other wells to continue injections into federally protected aquifers because it believes they stand a chance of being exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act protections.

Yet the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), a regional oil and gas lobbying group, is still suing the agency to prevent any wells from closing.

California Residents and Lawmakers Fight Reopening of Aliso Canyon, Site of Huge Natural Gas Blowout

Protesters rally against the reopening of the Aliso Canyon facility with signs

It’s now a waiting game as California regulators decide whether to reopen the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility in Los Angeles County, the site of an October 2015 blowout that released an estimated 97,000 metric tons of methane over four months.

California Regulators Allow Oil Companies to Continue Injecting Wastewater Into More Than 1,600 Wells in Protected Aquifers

Pump jack

Regulators with the California Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) announced in January that they plan to halt oil and gas wastewater injection in 475 oil wells in the Golden State — but also that they will continue to allow injections into federally protected aquifers at another 1,650 wells.

According to the environmental advocacy group Clean Water Action, the announcement appears to be in violation of DOGGR’s own compliance schedule, adopted by regulation in 2014, which requires all injection well operators that have not obtained an aquifer exemption from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to cease injection by February 15, 2017.

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