Category Archives: Carbon emissions

SF Chron: To ease traffic, the Bay Area should vote yes on Measure 3

Repost from the San Francisco Chronicle
[BenIndy Editor: Benicia Progressive Democrats oppose Measure 3, but the decision was not an easy one, nor were members unanimous  in voting to oppose it.  There are many good arguments for voting yes on Measure 3.  Benicia Mayor Patterson:  “the funds from RM3 are to enhance and grow transit…’we can’t drive our way out of congestion’.  The intensity of the opposition to RM3 by some is weird considering the need to reduce fossil fuel burning.”  See more below.  – RS]

Editorial: To ease traffic, the Bay Area should vote yes on Measure 3

Chronicle Editorial Board, 3/16/18, Updated: 3/17/18 1:18pm
The Bay Bridge Toll Plaza. Under Regional Measure 3, tolls will increase on the Bay Area's bridges by a total of $3 over the next seven years. The funds will go to a wide variety of regional road and transit projects, including ferries, the BART extension, and improvements to 680. Photo: Santiago Mejia, The Chronicle
The Chronicle The Bay Bridge Toll Plaza. Under Regional Measure 3, tolls will increase on the Bay Area’s bridges by a total of $3 over the next seven years. The funds will go to a wide variety of regional road and transit projects, including ferries, the BART extension, and improvements to 680. Photo: Santiago Mejia

The Bay Area has outgrown its regional transportation options.

Everyone who commutes in the Bay Area — whether it’s by car, by rail or by bus — can agree on this point. Aside from housing, the Bay Area’s deteriorating transportation infrastructure is our top regional challenge, and it’s affecting everything from our quality of life to our economic growth.

That’s why a long list of elected officials, business groups and regional transportation organizations have come together to push Regional Measure 3. The measure, which will be on the June ballot in nine Bay Area counties, will authorize toll increases on the region’s seven state-owned bridges. (The Golden Gate Bridge, with its separate authority, is excluded.)

Current tolls will increase by $1 on Jan. 1, 2019, then by another $1 in 2022 and 2025. That will bring tolls to $8 on every bridge except the Bay Bridge, where the toll will be $9 during peak commute times.

Toll increases are never easy to swallow. But it’s impossible to argue with the needs the measure has specifically identified for the resulting $4.45 billion in funding.

The North Bay will benefit from improvements to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, to state Highways 29 and 37, to U.S. Highway 101 and to Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) service.

San Francisco can look forward to a downtown extension for Caltrain, upgrades to the Clipper card system and a badly needed expansion of the Muni fleet.

Weary East Bay commuters will see relief from improvements to Interstates 80, 680 and 880, as well as some of the region’s more notorious snarls, where I-680 meets Highways 4 and 84.

On the Peninsula and in the South Bay, this money will go toward the second phase of the necessary BART extension to San Jose. It’ll also help connect the east side of San Jose to BART via a regional connector. Road improvements include the Dumbarton corridor and the Highway 101/92 interchange.

“Over the past two generations, we’ve barely added any capacity to regional transit,” said Gabriel Metcalf, president of SPUR, an urban planning think tank. “This is a very practical next step when it comes to our regional transit needs.”

The project list, which was developed by staff members at regional transit organizations, leans heavily toward improving the region’s mass transit options.

There are excellent reasons for this — the Bay Area can’t drive its way out of traffic congestion, and mass transit remains the most efficient way to move the most people.

Mass transit is also very expensive to build and to operate. Passing this regional measure could make the Bay Area more competitive in battles for state and federal matching funds.

Most bridge commuters can afford these toll increases. (The Bay Area’s toll payers tend to have higher incomes than the overall population.) For those who have lower incomes, they’ll continue to receive price reductions for carpooling, and the measure includes a discount for anyone who regularly commutes over two toll bridges.

Low-income transit commuters could actually benefit from the measure. The Clipper card upgrades will allow the Bay Area’s transit authorities to coordinate income-based fare discounts.

The measure doesn’t currently face any organized opposition. It also enjoys the approval of a solid majority of voters in the nine counties.

Those impressive feats are testament to how deeply the Bay Area is affected by traffic congestion, and how necessary many of these projects are.

Regional Measure 3 can’t and won’t fix all of the Bay Area’s traffic and infrastructure problems. For that, we’ll need state and federal support.

But that’s been too long in coming, and it’s past time for the Bay Area to make the improvements we can make on our own.

Measure 3 will result in real, measurable improvements to regional commutes, and that’s more than enough reason for the voters to say yes.

This commentary is from The Chronicle’s editorial board. We invite you to express your views in a letter to the editor. Please submit your letter via our online form: SFChronicle.com/letters.
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EARTHTALK: Where Do Vice President Candidates Pence & Kaine Stand on Environment?

Repost from Earthtalk

Where Do Vice President Candidates Pence & Kaine Stand on Environment?

By John McReynolds, 08/13/2016

Dear EarthTalkWhere do the Vice President choices for the upcoming Presidential election (Tim Kaine and Mike Pence) stand in terms of environmental track record and commitment?

Mitchell Finan, Butte, MT

Not surprisingly given the current political climate, the respective Vice Presidential candidates differ on most of the issues, including their policies on the environment and energy.

kaine pence sml 400x267 Where Do Vice President Candidates Pence & Kaine Stand on Environment?
The two Vice Presidential candidates (Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican Mike Pence) could hardly be father apart on their respective stances on conservation, environment, energy and what to do about climate change. Credit: Joel Rivlin, Gage Skidmore

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton’s VP choice Tim Kaine has opposed big oil companies since his career as Virginia State Senator. He first endorsed a “25% renewables by 2025” goal back in 2007, and has continued his staunch support ever since. He has been a champion of diversifying America’s energy portfolio. “We’re not going to drill our way out of the long-term energy crisis facing this nation and the world… we can’t keep relying oil,” said Kaine back in 2008. He reinforced this position again in his 2012 Senate race by arguing against tax subsidies for major oil companies.

As far as environmental protection, he has not shown much of a track record in support or against. In May of 2013, he did vote affirmatively on a bill to protect ocean, coastal and Great Lakes ecosystems. The League of Conservation Voters (LCV), which puts out an annual national environmental scorecard for politicians, has attributed a 91 percent lifetime score to Kaine, clearly naming him as one of our nation’s leading politicians. More recently, in late 2015, Kaine voted against a bill that attacked Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) carbon pollution limits. Of course, a Republican dominated Congress passed the bill anyway, although President Obama quickly vetoed it to maintain stricter limits on carbon pollution.

Across the aisle, Donald Trump’s VP selection, Mike Pence, lacks any sort of environmental agenda in his political career. The LCV gives him a lifetime score of only four percent, meaning he is no friend of the environment. Pence, who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2001-2013 when he assumed the Indiana governorship, voted against a “Cash for Clunkers” recycling program in 2009 and also voted no on a bill improving public transportation in 2008. Meanwhile, he voted affirmatively for deauthorizing critical habitat zones and approving forest thinning projects in 2005 and 2003, respectively.

As for energy policy, Pence supported the “25% renewable energy…” goal in 2007 like his opponent Kaine. However, since then, he has supported offshore drilling, opposed EPA regulation of greenhouse gases and voted without any environmental conscience. He also voted against incentives for alternative fuels, for the construction of new oil refineries, and against criminalizing oil cartels such as OPEC.

“I think the science is very mixed on the subject of global warming,” Pence stated in 2009. His record of the environment since then reflects his continued skepticism toward environmental protection efforts.

For environmentalists, Kaine is the obvious choice over Pence, which is no surprise given the Presidential candidates who selected each of them as running mates. While Hillary Clinton may have focused more attention on other political issues over her career, she has continuously supported environmental protection and the transition away from fossil fuels, while Donald Trump has fought environmental restrictions on his ability to operate his real estate empire and recently told reporters he would consider reneging on U.S. commitments to reduce greenhouse gases made at the recent Paris climate summit.

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DESMOGBLOG: “There is no doubt”: Exxon Knew CO2 Pollution Was A Global Threat By Late 1970s

Repost from DeSmogBlog

“There is no doubt”: Exxon Knew CO2 Pollution Was A Global Threat By Late 1970s

By Brendan DeMelle and Kevin Grandia, April 26, 2016 09:19
Throughout Exxon’s global operations, the company knew that CO2 was a harmful pollutant in the atmosphere years earlier than previously reported.

DeSmog has uncovered Exxon corporate documents from the late 1970s stating unequivocally “there is no doubt” that CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels was a growing “problem” well understood within the company.

It is assumed that the major contributors of CO2 are the burning of fossil fuels… There is no doubt that increases in fossil fuel usage and decreases of forest cover are aggravating the potential problem of increased CO2 in the atmosphere. Technology exists to remove CO2 from stack gases but removal of only 50% of the CO2 would double the cost of power generation.” [emphasis added]

Those lines appeared in a 1980 report, “Review of Environmental Protection Activities for 1978-1979,” produced by Imperial Oil, Exxon’s Canadian subsidiary.

#exxonknew - it is assumed

#exxonknew | there is no doubt
[click on any of the screenshots in this story to see a PDF of the full document]

A distribution list included with the report indicates that it was disseminated to managers across Exxon’s international corporate offices, including in Europe.

#exxonknew | distirbution list
[click here to download the full PDF version of “Review of Environmental Protection Activities for 1978-1979”]

The next report in the series, “Review of Environmental Protection Activities for 1980-81,” noted in an appendix covering “Key Environmental Affairs Issues and Concerns” that: CO2 / GREENHOUSE EFFECT RECEIVING INCREASED MEDIA ATTENTION.


[click here to download the full PDF version of “Review of Environmental Protection Activities for 1980-1981”]

InsideClimate News unveiled much new information in its Exxon: The Road Not Taken series clearly demonstrating the depth of climate science knowledge among Exxon’s U.S. operations. Additional revelations about the company’s early climate research were published by the Los Angeles Times in collaboration with the Columbia School of Journalism.

A 1980 Exxon report explained the company’s plans:

CO2 Greenhouse Effect:  Exxon-supported work is already underway to help define the seriousness of this problem. Such information is needed to assess the implications for future fossil fuel use. Government funding will be sought to expand the use of Exxon tankers in determining the capacity of the ocean to store CO2.”

Now DeSmog’s research confirms that the knowledge of the carbon dioxide pollution threat was indeed global across Exxon’s worldwide operations, earlier than previously known, and considered a major challenge for the company’s future operations. The new documents revealed today were found by DeSmog researchers in an Imperial Oil (TSE:IMOarchival collection housed at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, Alberta. We first learned of the existence of the collection in one of the articles published in the Los Angeles Times in collaboration with the Columbia School of Journalism.

“Since Pollution Means Disaster…”

A document discovered by DeSmog reveals that Exxon was aware as early as the late 1960s that global emissions of CO2 from combustion was a chief pollution concern affecting global ecology.

Those details were found in a 1970 report, “Pollution Is Everybody’s Business,” authored by H.R. Holland, a Chemical Engineer responsible for environmental protection in Imperial Oil’s engineering division. [click to download PDF of “Pollution is Everybody’s Business]

Holland wrote:

Since pollution means disaster to the affected species, the only satisfactory course of action is to prevent it – to maintain the addition of foreign matter at such levels that it can be diluted, assimilated or destroyed by natural processes – to protect man’s environment from man.”

Included in Holland’s report is a table of the “Estimated Global Emissions of Some Air Pollutants.” One of those “air pollutants” on the table is carbon dioxide with the listed sources as “oxidation of plant and animal matter” and “combustion.”

#ExxonKnew - Imperial Oil
The double asterisks beside CO2 in Holland’s list of pollutants refer to a citation for a 1969 scientific study, “Carbon Dioxide Affects Global Ecology,” in which the author explains the connections between the burning of fossil fuels, the rise in CO2 in the atmosphere and the potential effects this will have on future weather patterns and global temperatures.

Holland emphasized the need to control all forms of pollution through regulatory action, noting that “a problem of such size, complexity and importance cannot be dealt with on a voluntary basis.” Yet the fossil fuel industry has long argued that its voluntary programs are sufficient, and that regulations are unneeded.

Exxon Understood Climate Science, Yet Funded Decades of Climate Science Denial

Despite Exxon’s advanced scientific understanding of the role of CO2 pollution from fossil fuel burning causing atmospheric disruption, the company shelved its internal concerns and launched a sophisticated, global campaign to sow doubt and create public distrust of climate science. This included extensive lobbying and advertising activities, publishing weekly op-eds in The New York Times for years, and other tactics.

Exxon and Mobil were both founding members of the Global Climate Coalition, an industry front group created in 1989 to sow doubt — despite the GCC‘s internal understanding of the certainty.

While the GCC distributed a “backgrounder” to politicians and media in the early 1990s claiming “The role of greenhouse gases in climate change is not well understood,” a 1995 GCC internal memo drafted by Mobil Oil(which merged with Exxon in 1998) stated that: “The scientific basis for the Greenhouse Effect and the potential impact of human emissions of greenhouse gases such as CO2 on climate is well established and cannot be denied.”

And the most obvious evidence of Exxon’s pervasive efforts to attack science and pollution control regulations lies in the more than $30 million traced by Greenpeace researchers to several dozen think tanks and front groups working to confuse the public about the need to curb CO2 pollution.

FROM THE DESMOG RESEARCH DATABASE: ExxonMobil’s Funding of Climate Science Denial

As the science grew stronger, Exxon’s embrace of its global, multi-million dollar denial campaign grew more intense.

Imperial Oil’s Public Denial Grew Stronger In 1990s Despite Its Own Prior Scientific Certainty

Imperial Oil, Exxon’s Canadian subsidiary, as these documents demonstrate, had a clear understanding of the environmental and climate consequences of CO2 pollution from fossil fuel combution, yet its public denial of these links grew stronger throughout the 1990s.

Imperial Oil chairman and CEO Robert Peterson wrote in “A Cleaner Canada” in 1998: “Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant but an essential ingredient of life on this planet.”

(DeSmog will take a deeper look at Imperial Oil’s conflicting CO2 positioning in public vs. its internal communications in future coverage.)

Reached for comment, Imperial Oil did not respond by press time. ExxonMobil media relations manager Alan Jeffers provided the following response:

“Your conclusions are inaccurate but not surprising since you work with extreme environmental activists who are paying for fake journalism to misrepresent ExxonMobil’s nearly 40-year history of climate research. To suggest that we had reached definitive conclusions, decades before the world’s experts and while climate science was in an early stage of development, is not credible.”

Legal Implications of Fossil Fuel Industry’s Knowledge of CO2 Pollution and Climate Impacts

Calls are growing louder to hold Exxon and other fossil fuel interests accountable for funding climate denial campaigns given their advanced understanding of climate science and the implications of CO2 pollution for the atmosphere going back many decades.

In multiple U.S. states and territories — including New York, California, Massachusetts and the Virgin Islands — state Attorneys General are investigating Exxon’s depth of knowledge regarding the climate impacts of burning fossil fuels, and whether the company broke the law by fueling anti-science campaigns through corporate contributions to organizations and individuals working to sow doubt and confusion about global warming. [DeSmog coverage: State Investigations Into What Exxon Knew Double, and Exxon Gets Defensive]

Climate activists and even presidential candidate Hillary Clinton are urging the Department of Justice and other relevant government agencies to investigate the fossil fuel industry’s deliberate efforts to delay policy action to address the climate threat.

Democratic U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), Ed Markey (MA) and Brian Schatz (HIintroduced an amendment to the energy bill expressing Congress’s disapproval of the use of industry-funded think tanks and misinformation tactics aimed at sowing doubt about climate change science. But it remains to be seen what action Congress might take to hold the fossil fuel industry accountable for delaying policy solutions and confusing the public on this critical issue.

Imagine where the world would be had Exxon continued to pursue and embrace its advanced scientific understanding of climate change decades ago, rather than pivoting antagonistically against the science by funding decades of denial?

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