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The Scummy goes to…

TERMO COMPANY!!!! A private oil and gas company, Termo was penalized $75,000 on Friday for secretly venting natural gas in the same Southern California canyon at the same time that SoCalGas was trying to cap a massive methane leak that drove thousands from their homes in Porter Ranch. Way to take advantage of a terrible situation for everyone!

South Coast Air “Quality” Management District’s board’s name increasingly ironic

  • South Coast Air Quality Management District’s board is getting sued for rejecting a proposal to take a stronger stance on reducing smog. Instead, it supported a polluter-friendly proposal from the Western States Petroleum Association, reports the LA Times. That's right - the air quality board, whose only job is to protect air quality and public health in one of the nation's most polluted regions, is choosing Big Oil interests over public health concerns.
  • State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León is taking measures to fight the South Coast Air Quality Management District board’s decision to buddy up to the oil industry and adopt weaker pollution rules, reports the LA Times. De León plans to add a public health expert and two environmental justice members to the board to stand up for communities suffering from pollution.
  • The LA Times editorial board weighed in on the issue, saying SoCal repeatedly fails to meet federal air quality standards. How can it protect public health and reach those standards when the region's Air Quality Management District sides with Big Oil?


  • An op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle argues we should know better than to compromise our water sources. Lack of water-quality laws have turned many oil-producing areas in California into dumping grounds for toxic wastewater. It’s time to protect what little water we still have.
  • Oil giant Freeport-McMoRan wants an exemption from the Safe Drinking Water Act in order to dump oil wastewater into an aquifer in Price Canyon, located in San Luis Obispo County. Because why would anyone need uncontaminated water?

Porter Ranch

Remember that time Porter Ranch had the worst methane leak in U.S. history? Well, the leak may be sealed, but we’re still getting new information about the incompetence of SoCalGas and the residual impacts.
  • In the early phase of the Porter Ranch leak, SoCalGas poured a solution into the gas well to plug it. Not only did this not stop the leak, but the fluid mixed with oil and turned into an oily mist that floated down to Porter Ranch. So SoCalGas erected a screen to “catch” the mist. That didn’t go great either. Five months later, the leak is plugged, but SoCalGas now has to clean the resulting oil spots off residents’ homes and playgrounds. Great work all around.
  • Residents returning home a month after the Porter Ranch gas leak was sealed are reporting lingering illnesses as SoCalGas prepares to cut off relocation housing payments.
  • The California Air Resources Board has created a plan for SoCalGas to make up for its 100-thousand-ton mistake. The plan includes having the company pay to plug abandoned wells, install methane digesters at dairy farms, and help people buy more efficient furnaces and water heaters.
  • A reminder: The Porter Ranch gas leak received wide media coverage, but it's not the only incident like this. A similar situation occurred in Eight Mile, Alabama, and was largely ignored. In 2008, mercaptan leaked from a storage tank into groundwater. There were no evacuations, no state of emergency declared, and eight years later, residents are still suffering from the health consequences.

Big Oil “oopsies”

  • Last week, giant fireballs visible for miles lit up the night sky around the Torrance Refinery after a Mylar balloon hit a transmission line and caused a voltage issue. Doesn't that remind you of the time when a balloon caused a solar panel to blow up? Yeah. Us neither.
  • Unknown amounts of oil leaked into the LA Harbor last week. The frequency with which this kind of thing happens is best summarized by the announcement that anyone who encounters oiled wildlife should contact the Oiled Wildlife Care Network. Because it happens enough that we have one of those.

Crazy Train

  • At the end of four days of hearings, after listening to more than 400 people speak about the controversial proposal, the SLO County Planning Commission began deliberating on Phillips 66 Co.’s plan to upgrade its refinery to receive crude oil by rail. Planning Commissioner Jim Irving said Phillips 66 may not get a final decision on its project for five years because it may face challenges over both state and federal laws.
  • The Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Associated Students Inc. Board of Directors joined more than 30 cities, counties, and schools in opposing the Phillips 66 rail spur proposal.
  • Valero wants to bring trains carrying crude through the Sacramento region to its refinery in Benicia. Even without a catastrophe, oil trains pose a serious threat to public health and safety, says Tom Steyer and Steve Young in a SacBee op-ed. With clean energy and efficiency, California doesn’t need to take the risk.
Sign the petition to stop Phillips66
Sometimes Big Oil mouthpieces contradict themselves in order to attack clean energy policies. They probably hope we don't notice. Well, we noticed.
This is not a drill: Sea-level rise could disrupt the lives of over 13 million people in the U.S. - three times the current estimate, according to a new study. What's more, thanks to greenhouse gas emissions, the speed the sea is rising is also increasing.
Carbon is pouring into the atmosphere faster than at any time in the past 66 million years—since the dinosaurs went extinct—according to a new analysis of the geologic record. The study underscores just how profoundly humans are changing earth’s history, writes National Geographic.
Economic growth no longer means emissions growth. For the second year in a row, the global economy grew, while global carbon emissions stayed flat, according to International Energy Agency.
A new World Health Organization report finds that a quarter of all global deaths can be attributed to environmental factors that could be prevented - like pollution.
Shell Oil released its 2015 annual review, and the most surprising thing in it may be how concerned the company is with climate change, with the term appearing 15 times in the 228 page report. But don’t get too excited – the oil giant is using climate to renew its focus on natural gas, which, if you’re keeping tabs, also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, reports Grist.
So proud to announce our newest endorser, Stand Up To Oil! Follow them on Facebook and Twitter to find out what Big Oil’s up to with our neighbors to the north.
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