FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, June 2, 2022
Alexandra Nagy, (818) 633-0865, email@example.com
More than 108 organizations slam California Air Resources Board climate policy blueprint as setback for state and world, call for urgent changes in letter to Governor Newsom
Advocates say the scoping plan ignores Gov. Newsom’s call for accelerated action and fails to protect vulnerable communities from climate chaos
Sacramento — Seventy-three organizations sent a letter to Governor Newsom and the California Air Resources Board today criticizing its plan for reaching carbon neutrality, saying the plan is a setback for the state and the world. In the letter, advocates outline necessary changes to the Scoping Plan to ensure it delivers immediate emissions reductions at the pace and scale that climate science and environmental justice demand.
As it stands, the Draft Scoping Plan makes no changes to the emission reduction targets adopted in 2017, despite Gov. Newsom’s calls to action to accelerate ambition, and trades direct climate pollution cuts for risky and unproven carbon capture technologies pushed by the fossil fuel industry. Fossil fuel companies spent $6 million lobbying in California the first quarter of 2022 with the Scoping Plan and advocacy for carbon capture technologies being a common thread among them. Advocates say favoring strategies pushed by the fossil fuel industry will continue and potentially increase to harm the most vulnerable communities, primarily low-income communities and communities of color.
“California has a wealth of proven strategies to cut emissions, protect our health, and stabilize our climate. These include increased electrification through clean renewable energy, decarbonizing the state’s aging housing stock, deepening energy efficiency upgrades and scaling up investments in mass transit,” said Amee Raval, Policy Director at Asian Pacific Environmental Network. “We need to wind down consumption of fossil fuels and stop production of dirty fuels. California needs to do both and turn away from false solutions propped up by fossil fuel lobbying.”
Advocates are calling on the Scoping Plan to adopt the following three principles:
- Phasing out fossil fuels: A full, coordinated phase out of fossil fuels, with targets for oil refining by 2045, oil and gas extraction by 2035, and a clean, zero-emissions electric grid by 2035.
- Electrification of transit and buildings: Accelerate and scale up investments in clean vehicles and mass transit for working class Californians with 75% zero emission passenger vehicle sales by 2030, and 100% medium- and heavy-duty truck sales by 2035. Phase out sales of new gas appliances by 2030 and ensure a full decommissioning of the gas distribution system by 2045.
- Eliminate reliance on climate policy dead ends: Stop the use of Carbon Capture Utilization and Sequestration (CCUS) or Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) on polluting fuel sources. This includes eliminating biogas, significantly reducing the role of hydrogen, and limiting Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) to offset the final sliver of emissions that cannot be directly eliminated
In July 2021, Gov. Newsom stated that “science demands we do more,” and requested that CARB evaluate accelerating the state’s carbon neutrality targets. Advocates say CARB took an “all or nothing” approach to developing these scenarios, rather than thoughtfully pairing low-risk, low-cost strategies to immediately reduce climate pollution. The scoping plan relies heavily on carbon capture, utilization and sequestration (CCUS) and direct air capture (DAC), two controversial, costly and unproven technologies put forward by fossil fuel lobbyists instead of more aggressively pursuing direct emissions reductions.
“By pouring billions into the Big Oil scheme for carbon capture and storage at California’s oil refineries, the Air Resources Board’s draft climate plan extends the life of our otherwise defunct fossil fuel infrastructure,” said Connie Cho, an attorney with Communities for a Better Environment. “Communities need clear timelines and a real commitment to planning a just transition. If we wait until the industry is on its deathbed and bankrupt, we’re too late. Workers and communities will be left behind.”
CARB’s recommended path – Alternative 3 – actually takes the state backwards from existing policy by proposing to build 10 GW of new fossil gas generating capacity, roughly equivalent to 33 new large gas plants. This does not keep pace with local, national or international climate ambition. President Biden has called for a 50-55% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, and Los Angeles has committed to cutting emissions by 50% by 2025. The Scoping Plan commits to only 40% emissions reductions by 2030. The United Kingdom has targets to slash emissions by 68% by 2030 and 78% in 2035, and the European Union has committed to cutting carbon emissions 55% by 2030 across all sectors.
“CARB’s plan slow-walks direct emission reductions, adds the equivalent of more than 30 new gas power plants to our power grid, and relies on wildly unrealistic levels of carbon removal to make up the shortfall” said Sasan Saadat, Policy Analyst at Earthjustice. “It’s shocking to see California’s leading climate agency veer so far in the direction of the oil industry, and we can only hope that Governor Newsom will live up to his promises and get the agency back on track. If Newsom and CARB fail to correct course it will be a step backwards for California that continues to sacrifice vulnerable communities for fossil fuel profits.”
The California Air Resources Board will hold a hearing on the Draft Scoping Plan on June 23 and is expected to release a final plan for adoption in late Fall 2022.
The California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA) is a statewide, community-led alliance that works to achieve environmental justice by advancing policy solutions. We unite the powerful local organizing of working class people of color to create comprehensive opportunities for change at a statewide level. We build the power of communities across California to create policies that will alleviate poverty and pollution. Together, we are growing the statewide movement for environmental health and social justice. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.