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The largest methane leak in US History

We are so, so sad to report that this is still a top story: The SoCalGas natural gas leak, the biggest fossil fuels disaster in the U.S. since the BP oil spill, continues to spew methane without end in sight, earning the dubious honor of becoming the largest contributor to climate change in California. The leak has forced thousands of people from their homes and prompted Gov. Brown to declare a state of emergency and order SoCalGas to offset the climate damage caused.
  • Documents filed with DOGGR also reveal that this particular well was showing signs of leakage 24 years ago in 1992.
  • Attorneys say the leak COULD have been stopped IF there was a safety valve. But the safety valve broke in 1979, so SoCalGas simply removed it, reports the LA Times. Quick thinking.
  • The leaking methane — a greenhouse gas over 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide— threatens the state's progress in the fight against climate change. The monthly methane emissions from the leak could be responsible for 15% of the hourly greenhouse gas emissions from the entire United States natural gas industry, reports UtilityDive. Yikes.
  • A new analysis shows that a much broader swath of LA is now drowning in methane, reports Gizmodo.

Crazy Train

A hearing has finally been set in early February for Phillips 66’s controversial rail spur, which proposes to bring 2.5 million gallons of toxic crude oil through densely populated areas and puts five million Californians at risk if a derailment takes place. The oil would be refined at the Santa Maria Refinery before being exported, offering no benefit to the millions of Californians it endangers.
  • Observers are highly critical of claims from Phillips 66 and industry-backed groups (like Project SLO Jobs) that approval of the project is important for the future operation of the Santa Maria Refinery. A growing number of municipalities and schools are coming out against the project because of what a shockingly terrible idea it is.
Sign the petition to stop Phillips66

Big Oil Knew

Last year we learned that Exxon knew – and allegedly lied – about the risks of climate change. New evidence shows Exxon wasn’t alone – Mobil and Shell also joined multimillion-dollar misinformation campaigns to stave off new regulations to address global warming. Internally, however, they were bracing for the impacts of a changing climate, reports the LA Times.

2015 in Review

Though we know the oil industry is always up to no good, it’s still striking to see just how much they’re able to do to the Golden State in 12 short months. Check out our roundup of the dirtiest dozen.


Extract This

  • In the past two years, Oklahoma has had as many earthquakes as they historically have had in one thousand years. Last year, the number of quakes registering 3.0 or greater reached 881 – a 50 percent increase from 2014, reports FuelFix. But despite the clear connection, an Oklahoma extraction company is refusing to comply with injection reductions because they don’t think there is sufficient evidence. Kind of reminds us of another arm of the oil industry that used doubt to sidestep anything that may cut into profits (see: ExxonKnew). Some residents are so fed up they’re suing energy companies over earthquake damage.
  • Big Oil is running amok in Kern County, according to an op-ed in SacBee. Supervisors recently okayed zoning changes that could double the number of wells in the next 20 years, which will impact communities of color – those most likely to live close to oil wells.
  • One hundred fifty-seven of the 240 oil extraction chemicals recently studied by a Yale research team are associated with reproductive or developmental problems. And that’s just the chemicals the team had adequate data on. As for the other 600 or so chemicals used? It’s anybody’s guess!

Call to Action:
Let's stop the largest proposed crude by rail terminal in North America

At 360,000 barrels per day, Tesoro Savage’s Vancouver project would bring four or more mile-long trains carrying explosive crude oil through Spokane, the Columbia River Gorge, and Vancouver every day. When oil trains derail, they often spill, explode, and ignite. We have already seen these devastating accidents across North America. 

Help stop Tesoro
Climate Change and civil rights: “When unprecedented weather disasters devastate the poorest neighborhoods in places like New Orleans, New Jersey, and New York, [climate change is] a civil rights issue."
Contrary to what GOP presidential candidates seem to think, 70% of Americans think the climate is changing. Which incidentally is correct. Gold star for America!
VIDEO: looks like fossil fuels are tainting that iconic San Francisco fog with toxic mercury, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. Why does Big Oil ruin everything we love?
New lobbying rule could require lobby groups to publically report who and how much they pay for publicity efforts. In other words, if passed, Big Oil may actually have to tell people about all them front groups.
The American Petroleum Institute has deep pockets and big spending plans for 2016. What do they hope to buy? A president.
Climate Change is a public health issue: Air pollution has serious impacts on the day-to-day lives of people across the world, reports NYT.
America’s second biggest coal miner files for bankruptcy, reports Fortune. Seems we’ve reached peak coal! 
Climate policies are good for business: In 2013 the U.S. was $2.2 billion richer thanks to cutting green house gas emissions. If you factor in reductions in other forms of air pollution, that number jumps to $5.2 billion.
Ending the oil export ban promises to bring:
  • More export facilities and pipelines and “bomb” trains
  • More methane emissions
  • 515 more metric tons of carbon pollution a year
  • And more!
No wonder Paul Ryan compared it to having “100 Keystone Pipelines.”
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