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For Immediate Release

Monday, October 24, 2022

Contact: 

Alexandra Nagy, (818) 633-0865, alexandra@sunstonestrategies.org

 

80+ Groups Slam California Climate Plan’s Reliance on

Carbon Capture for Fossil Fuel Infrastructure

 

Advocates say putting carbon capture on oil and gas operations locks in fossil fuel infrastructure, exacerbates pollution, and undermines California’s climate leadership

 

Sacramento, CA — Over eighty climate and environmental justice groups sent a letter calling on the California Governor and the California Air Resources Board Chair, Liane Randolph, to reject the use of carbon capture and storage (CCS) for fossil fuel infrastructure like oil refineries, gas-fired power plants, and other oil and gas operations in the state’s 2022 Climate Change Scoping Plan.   

This letter comes after new lobbying disclosure research revealed the CA CCS lobby, dominated by fossil fuel interests organized by the CA Carbon Capture Coalition, spent more than $13 million lobbying California’s Scoping Plan, Governor’s office, Legislature and the Air Resources Board in the first six months of 2022. 

The Governor and the Air Resources Board cannot allow oil and gas lobbyists to write our state’s climate plan. Carbon capture at oil refineries is a climate dead end that will keep otherwise defunct fossil fuel infrastructure polluting indefinitely at a time when we need to rapidly phase out fossil fuels. It paves the way for billions in public subsidies to fossil fuel executives, locks us into the worst case climate scenarios, and undermines both the Governor’s courageous call to hold Big Oil accountable and the Board’s own prudent plans to assess and coordinate a phasedown of oil extraction, refining, and use in California,” said Connie Cho, CBE Attorney and Member of the Environmental Justice Advisory Board for the 2022 Update to the Climate Change Scoping Plan.

In response to growing criticism, the Air Resources Board has taken important steps to improve the Scoping Plan: eliminating new gas plants, doubling reductions of vehicle miles traveled, and committing to an inter-agency planning process for a supply-side phasedown of oil refining. 

However, the Draft Scoping Plan as it stands still trades direct climate pollution cuts for risky and ineffective carbon capture technologies pushed by fossil fuel lobbyists. In their letter, advocates warn that the Scoping Plan’s dependence on CCS technology at refineries, power plants and oil and gas operations will keep these polluting, climate-warming operations open indefinitely while doing nothing to lower non-CO2 pollution. 

In the letter, advocates point to numerous downsides of CCS technology including:

  • Fossil fuel and other polluting industries want to use CCS to continue business as usual
  • CCS does not work as promised, despite decades of investment
  • CCS requires large amounts of energy, which threatens California’s grid stability
  • CCS increases water usage and risks polluting groundwater and air quality
  • CCS–even with guardrails–endangers communities 

“No community in California should be a dumping ground for carbon waste.  In the Central Valley, we already have over 40 leaking oil wells in our backyards.  Now, big polluters want to set up dozens of carbon capture projects, some located over or near fault lines. For us, that means new dangers of pipeline ruptures and leaking carbon dioxide wells that could contaminate our water and deprive our bodies and  brains of oxygen,” said Juan Flores, Community Organizer, Center on Race, Poverty and Environment. “The best community protection is to avoid this inherently dangerous technology altogether in California’s climate plan and instead focus on rapidly phasing out fossil fuels.”

“Carbon capture would put tremendous strain on California’s already struggling electricity grid and would increase energy costs far into the future,” said Alexis Sutterman, Energy Equity Program Manager, California Environmental Justice Alliance. “Instead, California must invest in strategically-sited clean renewable energy infrastructure to replace fossil fuels, protect our health, and stabilize our climate.”

Last month, a memo released by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform shows fossil fuel executives know that CCUS technologies will “enable the full use of fossil fuels across the energy transition and beyond.” 

“Carbon capture doesn’t make fossil fuels climate-safe any more than filters make cigarettes safe,” said Victoria Bogdan Tejeda, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute. “Oil industry misinformation doesn’t change the fact that carbon capture and storage technology has repeatedly failed to cut carbon emissions as promised. California’s climate plan should follow the science and rapidly phase out fossil fuels, not lay expensive bets on a dangerous, proven failure like CCS.” 

The California Air Resources Board is expected to release a final plan for adoption of its Scoping Plan in November 2022 for final adoption by December. Advocates and environmental justice representatives are urging the Air Resources Board to reject carbon capture schemes funded by the fossil fuel industry in the Final Draft Scoping Plan.

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