In the first ruling of its kind nationwide, a Montana state court decided Monday in favor of young people who alleged the state violated their right to a “clean and healthful environment” by promoting the use of fossil fuels.
The court determined that a provision in the Montana Environmental Policy Act has harmed the state’s environment and the young plaintiffs, by preventing Montana from considering the climate impacts of energy projects. The provision is accordingly unconstitutional, the court said.
The win, experts say, could energize the environmental movement and reshape climate litigation across the country, ushering in a wave of cases aimed at advancing action on climate change.
“People around the world are watching this case,” said Michael Gerrard, the founder of Columbia’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law.
The ruling represents a rare victory for climate activists who have tried to use the courts to push back against government policies and industrial activities they say are harming the planet. In this case, it involved 16 young Montanans, ranging in age from 5 to 22, who brought the nation’s first constitutional and first youth-led climate lawsuit to go to trial.
Though the cumulative number of climate cases around the world has more than doubled in the last five years, youth-led lawsuits in the United States have faced an uphill battle. Already, at least 14 of these cases have been dismissed, according to a July report from the United Nations Environment Program and the Sabin Center. The report said about three-quarters of the approximately 2,200 ongoing or concluded cases were filed before courts in the United States.
Experts said the Montana youth had an advantage in the state’s constitution, which guarantees a right to a “clean and healthful environment.”
Coal is critical to the state’s economy, and Montana is home to the largest recoverable coal reserves in the country. The plaintiff’s attorneys say the state has never denied a permit for a fossil fuel project.
Across five days of emotional testimony in June, the youths made claims about injuries they have suffered as a result of climate change. A 15-year-old with asthma described himself as “a prisoner in my own home” when isolating with covid during a period of intense wildfire smoke. Rikki Held, the 22-year-old plaintiff for whom the lawsuit is named, detailed how extreme weather has hurt her family’s ranch.
Held testified that a favorable judgment would make her more hopeful for the future. “I know that climate change is a global issue, but Montana has to take responsibility for our part in that,” she said.
Attorneys for the state countered that Montana’s contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions is small. If the law in question were altered or overturned, Montana Assistant Attorney General Michael Russell said, there would be “no meaningful impact or appreciable effect” on the climate.
The state began and rested its defense on the same day, bringing the trial to an unexpectedly early closeon June 20. In a pivot from its expected defense disputing the climate science behind the plaintiffs’ case, the state focused instead on arguing that the legislature should weigh in on the contested law, not the judiciary. Russell derided the case in his closing statement as a “week-long airing of political grievances that properly belong in the Legislature, not a court of law.”
Gerrard said the change in strategy came as a surprise: “Everyone expected them to put on a more vigorous defense,” he said. “And they may have concluded that the underlying science of climate change was so strong that they didn’t want to contest it.”
Though the state is expected to appeal the decision, experts said the favorable verdict for the youths could influence how judges approach similar cases in other states and prompt them to apply “judicial courage” in addressing climate change.The nonprofit law firm Our Children’s Trust, which represents the plaintiffs, has taken legal action on behalf of youths in all 50 states, and has cases pending in four other states.
Juliana v. United States, a 2015 case brought by Our Children’s Trust that drew international attention, is also back on path to trial after facing repeated setbacks. The case took aim at the federal government, alleging that it had violated the 21 youths’ rights to life, liberty and property, as well as failed to protect public trust resources, in taking actions that contribute to climate change.
Plaintiffs’ attorney Phil Gregory said the court’s verdict could empower youth everywhere to take to the courts to secure their futures.
“There are political decisions being made without regard to the best scientific evidence and the effects they will have on our youngest generations,” he said. “This is a monumental decision.”
During a summer of scorching heat that has broken records and forced Americans to confront the reality of climate change, conservatives are laying the groundwork for a 2024 Republican administration that would dismantle efforts to slow global warming.
The move is part of a sweeping strategy dubbed Project 2025 that Paul Dans of the Heritage Foundation, the conservative think tank organizing the effort, has called a “battle plan” for the first 180 days of a future Republican presidency.
The climate and energy provisions would be among the most severe swings away from current federal policies.
The plan calls for shredding regulations to curb greenhouse gas pollution from cars, oil and gas wells and power plants, dismantling almost every clean energy program in the federal government and boosting the production of fossil fuels — the burning of which is the chief cause of planetary warming.
The New York Times asked the leading Republican presidential candidates whether they support the Project 2025 strategy, but none of the campaigns responded. Still, several of the architects are veterans of the Trump administration, and their recommendations match positions held by former President Donald Trump, the current front-runner for the 2024 Republican nomination.
The $22 million project also includes personnel lists and a transition strategy in the event a Republican wins the 2024 election. The nearly 1,000-page plan, which would reshape the executive branch to place more power into the president’s hands, outlines changes for nearly every agency across the government.
The Heritage Foundation worked on the plan with dozens of conservative groups ranging from the Heartland Institute, which has denied climate science, to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which says “climate change does not endanger the survival of civilization or the habitability of the planet.”
Dans said the Heritage Foundation delivered the blueprint to every Republican presidential hopeful. While polls have found that young Republicans are worried about global warming, Dans said the feedback he has received confirms the blueprint reflects where the majority of party leaders stand.
“We have gotten very good reception from this,” he said. “This is a plotting of points of where the conservative movement sits at this time.”
There is a pronounced partisan split in the country when it comes to climate change, surveys have shown. An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll conducted last month found that while 56% of respondents called climate change a major threat — including a majority of independents and nearly 90% of Democrats — about 70% of Republicans said global warming was either a minor threat or no threat at all.
Project 2025 does not offer any proposals for curbing the greenhouse gas emissions that are dangerously heating the planet and which scientists have said must be sharply and quickly reduced to avoid the most catastrophic impacts.
Asked what the country should do to combat climate change, Diana Furchtgott-Roth, director of the Heritage Foundation’s energy and climate center, said “I really hadn’t thought about it in those terms” and then offered that Americans should use more natural gas.
Natural gas produces half the carbon dioxide emissions of coal when burned. But gas facilities frequently leak methane, a greenhouse gas that is much more powerful than carbon dioxide in the short term and has emerged as a growing concern among climate scientists.
The blueprint said the next Republican president would help repeal the Inflation Reduction Act, the 2022 law that is offering $370 billion for wind, solar, nuclear, green hydrogen and electric vehicle technology, with most of the new investments taking place in Republican-led states.
The plan calls for shuttering a Department of Energy office that has $400 billion in loan authority to help emerging green technologies. It would make it more difficult for solar, wind and other renewable power — the fastest-growing energy source in the United States — to be added to the grid. Climate change would no longer be considered an issue worthy of discussion on the National Security Council, and allied nations would be encouraged to buy and use more fossil fuels rather than renewable energy.
The blueprint throws open the door to drilling inside the pristine Arctic wilderness, promises legal protections for energy companies that kill birds while extracting oil and gas, and declares the federal government has an “obligation to develop vast oil and gas and coal resources” on public lands.
Notably, it also would restart a quest for something climate denialists have long considered their holy grail: reversal of a 2009 scientific finding at the Environmental Protection Agency that says carbon dioxide emissions are a danger to public health.
Erasing that finding, conservatives have long believed, would essentially strip the federal government of the right to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from most sources.
In interviews, Dans and three of the top authors of the report agreed that the climate is changing. But they insisted that scientists are debating the extent to which human activity is responsible.
On the contrary, the overwhelming majority of climate scientists around the world agree that the burning of oil, gas and coal since the Industrial Age has led to an increase of the average global temperature of 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.2 degrees Fahrenheit).
The plan calls on the government to stop trying to make automobiles more fuel efficient and to block states from adopting California’s stringent automobile pollution standards.
Furchtgott-Roth said any measures the United States would take to cut carbon would be undermined by rising emissions in countries like China, currently the planet’s biggest polluter. It would be impossible to persuade China, to cut its emissions, she said.
Mandy Gunasekara was chief of staff at the EPA during the Trump administration and considers herself the force behind Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the 2015 Paris climate accord. She led the section outlining plans for that agency, and said that regarding whether carbon emissions pose a danger to human health “there’s a misconception that any of the science is a settled issue.”
Bernard L. McNamee is a former Trump administration official who has worked for the Texas Public Policy Foundation, which spreads misinformation about climate change, as well as an adviser to fossil fuel companies. He wrote the section of the strategy covering the Department of Energy, which said the national laboratories have been too focused on climate change and renewable energy. In an interview, McNamee said he believes the role of the agency is to make sure energy is affordable and reliable.
Dans said a mandate of Project 2025 is to “investigate whether the dimensions of climate change exist and what can actually be done.” As for the influence of burning fossil fuels, he said, “I think the science is still out on that quite frankly.”
In actuality, it is not.
The top scientists in the United States concluded in an exhaustive study produced during the Trump administration that humans — the cars we drive, the power plants we operate, the forests we destroy — are to blame. “There is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the extent of the observational evidence,” scientists wrote.
Climate advocates denounced the Republican mandate as taking the country in the wrong direction even as heat waves and wildfires worsen because of emissions.
“This agenda would be laughable if the consequences of it weren’t so dire,” said Christy Goldfuss, chief policy impact officer for the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group.
Republicans who have called for their party to accept climate change said they were disappointed by the blueprint and worried about the direction of the party.
“I think its out-of-touch Beltway silliness and it’s not meeting Americans where they are,” said Sarah Hunt, president of the Joseph Rainey Center for Public Policy, which works with Republican state officials on energy needs.
She called efforts to repeal the Inflation Reduction Act, which is pouring money and jobs overwhelmingly into red states, particularly impractical.
“Obviously as conservatives we’re concerned about fiscal responsibility, but if you look at what Republican voters think, a lot of Republicans in red states show strong support for provisions of the IRA,” Hunt said.
Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, who launched a conservative climate caucus, called it “vital that Republicans engage in supporting good energy and climate policy.”
Without directly commenting on the GOP blueprint, Curtis said, “I look forward to seeing the solutions put forward by the various presidential candidates and hope there is a robust debate of ideas to ensure we have reliable, affordable and clean energy.”
Benji Backer, executive chair and founder of the American Conservation Coalition, a group of young Republicans who want climate action, said he felt Project 2025 was wrongheaded.
“If they were smart about this issue they would have taken approach that said ‘the Biden administration has done things in a way they don’t agree with but here’s our vision,’ ” he said. “Instead they remove it from being a priority.”
He noted that climate change is a real concern among young Republicans. By a nearly 2-to-1 margin, polls have found, Republicans ages 18 to 39 are more likely to agree that “human activity contributes a great deal to climate change,” and that the federal government has a role to play in curbing it.
Of Project 2025, he said, “This sort of approach on climate is not acceptable to the next generation.”
[Note from BenIndy Contributor Kathy Kerridge: This story is an eye-opener for all of us who believe that the EPA is supposed to protect us and the environment. It is simply unbelievable that this has been approved and I think we all need to contact the White House to express our disapproval. If indeed this chemical is found in marine fuels, we have much to be concerned about in Benicia.]
The Environmental Protection Agency approved a component of boat fuel made from discarded plastic that the agency’s own risk formula determined was so hazardous, everyone exposed to the substance continually over a lifetime would be expected to develop cancer. Current and former EPA scientists said that threat level is unheard of. It is a million times higher than what the agency usually considers acceptable for new chemicals and six times worse than the risk of lung cancer from a lifetime of smoking.
Federal law requires the EPA to conduct safety reviews before allowing new chemical products onto the market. If the agency finds that a substance causes unreasonable risk to health or the environment, the EPA is not allowed to approve it without first finding ways to reduce that risk.
But the agency did not do that in this case. Instead, the EPA decided its scientists were overstating the risks and gave Chevron the go-ahead to make the new boat fuel ingredient at its refinery in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Though the substance can poison air and contaminate water, EPA officials mandated no remedies other than requiring workers to wear gloves, records show.
ProPublica and the Guardian in February reported on the risks of other new plastic-based Chevron fuels that were also approved under an EPA program that the agency had touted as a “climate-friendly” way to boost alternatives to petroleum-based fuels. That story was based on an EPA consent order, a legally binding document the agency issues to address risks to health or the environment. In the Chevron consent order, the highest noted risk came from a jet fuel that was expected to create air pollution so toxic that 1 out of 4 people exposed to it over a lifetime could get cancer.
In February, ProPublica and the Guardian asked the EPA for its scientists’ risk assessment, which underpinned the consent order. The agency declined to provide it, so ProPublica requested it under the Freedom of Information Act. The 203-page risk assessment revealed that, for the boat fuel ingredient, there was a far higher risk that was not in the consent order. EPA scientists included figures that made it possible for ProPublica to calculate the lifetime cancer risk from breathing air pollution that comes from a boat engine burning the fuel. That calculation, which was confirmed by the EPA, came out to 1.3 in 1, meaning every person exposed to it over the course of a full lifetime would be expected to get cancer.
Such risks are exceedingly unusual, according to Maria Doa, a scientist who worked at EPA for 30 years and once directed the division that managed the risks posed by chemicals. The EPA division that approves new chemicals usually limits lifetime cancer risk from an air pollutant to 1 additional case of cancer in a million people. That means that if a million people are continuously exposed over a presumed lifetime of 70 years, there would likely be at least one case of cancer on top of those from other risks people already face.
When Doa first saw the 1-in-4 cancer risk for the jet fuel, she thought it must have been a typo. The even higher cancer risk for the boat fuel component left her struggling for words. “I had never seen a 1-in-4 risk before this, let alone a 1.3-in-1,” said Doa. “This is ridiculously high.”
Another serious cancer risk associated with the boat fuel ingredient that was documented in the risk assessment was also missing from the consent order. For every 100 people who ate fish raised in water contaminated with that same product over a lifetime, seven would be expected to develop cancer — a risk that’s 70,000 times what the agency usually considers acceptable.
When asked why it didn’t include those sky-high risks in the consent order, the EPA acknowledged having made a mistake. This information “was inadvertently not included in the consent order,” an agency spokesperson said in an email.
Nevertheless, in response to questions, the agency wrote, “EPA considered the full range of values described in the risk assessment to develop its risk management approach for these” fuels. The statement said that the cancer risk estimates were “extremely unlikely and reported with high uncertainty.” Because it used conservative assumptions when modeling, the EPA said, it had significantly overestimated the cancer risks posed by both the jet fuel and the component of marine fuel. The agency assumed, for instance, that every plane at an airport would be idling on a runway burning an entire tank of fuel, that the cancer-causing components would be present in the exhaust and that residents nearby would breathe that exhaust every day over their lifetime.
In addition, the EPA also said that it determined the risks from the new chemicals were similar to those from fuels that have been made for years, so the agency relied on existing laws rather than calling for additional protections. But the Toxic Substances Control Act requires the EPA to review every new chemical — no matter how similar to existing ones. Most petroleum-based fuels were never assessed under the law because existing chemicals were exempted from review when it passed in 1976. Studies show people living near refineries have elevated cancer rates.
“EPA recognizes that the model it used in its risk assessments was not designed in a way that led to realistic risk estimates for some of the transportation fuel uses,” an agency spokesperson wrote. For weeks, ProPublica asked what a realistic cancer risk estimate for the fuels would be, but the agency did not provide one by the time of publication.
New chemicals are treated differently under federal law than ones that are already being sold. If the agency is unsure of the dangers posed by a new chemical, the law allows the EPA to order tests to clarify the potential health and environmental harms. The agency can also require that companies monitor the air for emissions or reduce the release of pollutants. It can also restrict the use of new products or bar their production altogether. But in this case, the agency didn’t do any of those things.
Six environmental organizations concerned about the risks from the fuels — the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Moms Clean Air Force, Toxic-Free Future, Environmental Defense Fund and Beyond Plastics — are challenging the agency’s characterization of the cancer risks. “EPA’s assertion that the assumptions in the risk assessment are overly conservative is not supported,” the groups wrote in a letter sent Wednesday to EPA administrator Michael Regan. The groups accused the agency of failing to protect people from dangers posed by the fuels and urged the EPA to withdraw the consent order approving them.
Chevron has not started making the new fuels, the EPA said.
Separately, the EPA acknowledged that it had mislabeled critical information about the harmful emissions. The consent order said the 1-in-4 lifetime cancer risk referred to “stack air” — a term for pollution released through a smokestack. The cancer burden from smokestack pollution would fall on residents who live near the refinery. And indeed a community group in Pascagoula sued the EPA, asking the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., to invalidate the agency’s approval of the chemicals.
But the agency now says that those numbers in the consent order do not reflect the cancer risk posed by air from refinery smokestacks. When the consent order said stack emissions, the EPA says, it really meant pollution released from the exhaust of the jets and boats powered by these fuels.
“We understand that this may have caused a misunderstanding,” the EPA wrote in its response to ProPublica.
Based on that explanation, the extraordinary cancer burden would fall on people near boats or idling airplanes that use the fuels — not those living near the Chevron refinery in Pascagoula.
Each of the two cancer-causing products is expected to be used at 100 sites, the EPA confirmed. ProPublica asked for the exact locations where the public might encounter them, but Chevron declined to say. The EPA said it didn’t know the locations and didn’t even know whether the marine fuel would be used for a Navy vessel, a cruise ship or a motorboat.
In an email, a Chevron spokesperson referred questions to the EPA and added: “The safety of our employees, contractors and communities are our first priority. We place the highest priority on the health and safety of our workforce and protection of our assets, communities and the environment.”
Doa, the former EPA scientist who worked at the agency for three decades, said she had never known the EPA to misidentify a source of pollution in a consent order. “When I was there, if we said something was stack emissions, we meant that they were stack emissions,” she said.
During multiple email exchanges with ProPublica and the Guardian leading up to the February story, the EPA never said that cancer risks listed as coming from stack emissions were actually from boat and airplane exhaust. The agency did not explain why it initially chose not to tell ProPublica and the Guardian that the EPA had mislabeled the emissions.
The agency faced scrutiny after the February story in ProPublica and the Guardian. In an April letter to EPA administrator Michael Regan, Sen. Jeff Merkley, the Oregon Democrat who chairs the Senate’s subcommittee on environmental justice and chemical safety, said he was troubled by the high cancer risks and the fact that the EPA approved the new chemicals using a program meant to address the climate crisis.
EPA assistant administrator Michal Freedhoff told Merkley in a letter earlier this year that the 1-in-4 cancer risk stemmed from exposure to the exhaust of idling airplanes and the real risk to the residents who live near the Pascagoula refinery was “on the order of one in a hundred thousand,” meaning it would cause one case of cancer in 100,000 people exposed over a lifetime.
Told about the even higher cancer risk from the boat fuel ingredient, Merkley said in an email, “It remains deeply concerning that fossil fuel companies are spinning what is a complicated method of burning plastics, that is actually poisoning communities, as beneficial to the climate. We don’t understand the cancer risks associated with creating or using fuels derived from plastics.”
Merkley said he is “leaving no stone unturned while digging into the full scope of the problem, including looking into EPA’s program.”
He added, “Thanks to the dogged reporting from ProPublica we are getting a better sense of the scale and magnitude of this program that has raised so many concerns.”
The risk assessment makes it clear that cancer is not the only problem. Some of the new fuels pose additional risks to infants, the document said, but the EPA didn’t quantify the effects or do anything to limit those harms, and the agency wouldn’t answer questions about them.
Some of these newly approved toxic chemicals are expected to persist in nature and accumulate in living things, the risk assessment said. That combination is supposed to trigger additional restrictions under EPA policy, including prohibitions on releasing the chemicals into water. Yet the agency lists the risk from eating fish contaminated with several of the compounds, suggesting they are expected to get into water. When asked about this, an EPA spokesperson wrote that the agency’s testing protocols for persistence, bioaccumulation and toxicity are “unsuitable for complex mixtures” and contended that these substances are similar to existing petroleum-based fuels.
The EPA has taken one major step in response to concerns about the plastic-based chemicals. In June, it proposed a rule that would require companies to contact the agency before making any of 18 fuels and related compounds listed in the Chevron consent order. The EPA would then have the option of requiring tests to ensure that the oil used to create the new fuels doesn’t contain unsafe contaminants often found in plastic, including certain flame retardants, heavy metals, dioxins and PFAS. If approved, the rule will require Chevron to undergo such a review before producing the fuels, according to the EPA.
But environmental advocates say that the new information about the plastic-based chemicals has left them convinced that, even without additional contamination, the fuels will pose a grave risk.
“This new information just raises more questions about why they didn’t do this the right way,” said Daniel Rosenberg, director of federal toxics policy at NRDC. “The more that comes out about this, the worse it looks.”
[Note from BenIndy Contributor Nathalie Christian: This post (another opinion piece from SacBee, this time from their editorial board) references a ‘councilwoman-turned-state-senator’ who pledged to not take fossil fuel money but still benefited fabulously from an oil-and-gas PAC’s lavish electioneering on her behalf. She never personally accepted Big Oil money, and she can trumpet that all she likes, but she certainly did benefit from Big Oil money, and the impact can be the same. This is a huge problem in electoral politics, and one that absolutely reaches deep into Benicia: Candidates can pledge to steer clear of Big Oil money, but the Valero-funded Benicia PAC (previously known as ‘Working Families,’ now operating under ‘Progress for Benicia’) can make ‘independent expenditures’ on a candidate’s behalf, like ‘independently’ deciding to send out a little mailer to support a candidate they view as favorable to their interests. The result is the same – the candidate more favorable to Big Oil wins – even if the money trail is more twisty. And PAC’s routinely outspend what candidates can expend on their own behalf, by several orders of magnitude. This is Big Oil’s electoral playbook. Candidates oh-so-virtuously reject direct donations from Big Oil and special interest groups, signaling their independence in the climate fight, while still benefiting indirectly, to the tune of millions of dollars in some cases. I can’t allege that every candidate who ‘indirectly’ benefits from Big Oil money is subject to influence, but it’s not unreasonable to suspect that elected officials may be at least a tad more favorable to an industry that spends big to help them get elected.]
SacBee, Opinion by the Sacramento Bee Editorial Board, August 5, 2023
After all, that’s what the word “ambitious” means. California must set lofty, near-unattainable goals if we’re going to reverse the effects that climate change has created in our state — unprecedented wildfires, searing heat, and floods, to name a few.
California must continue to be an impatient, pioneering leader for the rest of the nation, as the federal government so often looks to our state to set the highest standard.
The California Resources Board, in its new 2022 climate change road map, set an increased target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 to 48% below 1990 levels. Previously, the goal was 40%. In meeting that higher objective, the board predicted it would have to rely heavily on the use of emerging technologies that are expected to help remove carbon pollution from the atmosphere. There are both engineering ways to capture and store industrial emissions and natural approaches to absorbing carbon emissions such as reforestation. There is hope in “green hydrogen,” splitting of water into hydrogen and oxygen using renewable electricity. Green hydrogen could fuel heavy industries such as trucks and power plants and airplanes. But the technology to produce green hydrogen remains a work in progress.
Now regulators say the emerging technologies they were depending on may not be available by 2030.
So how to meet the goal? CARB may choose to increase the state’s controversial cap-and-trade program, which establishes a limit on major emitters of greenhouse gasses, and creates an economic incentive for corporate investment in cleaner technologies. Some participants are given emission allowances with the ability to purchase more.
Increasing cap-and-trade standards is not only a dubious solution to reach CARB’s goal of 48%, but could also drive up carbon prices dramatically and push industrial polluters out of California entirely. While that may make California’s numbers look good, it wouldn’t be a solution to the global problem of climate change and would deeply affect the state’s economy, which is already in a downturn after the pandemic.
In order to meet our climate goals, however lofty, California has to start making difficult emission cuts.
The reality is that it’s CARB’s duty to make the state’s progressive climate goals work in the real world — no easy task. At a recent cap-and-trade program workshop, regulators from CARB hinted for the first time that the department may struggle to meet those 2030 goals. CARB simply cannot be expected to prevail in this alone, and especially not when huge obstacles are placed in its way by oil lobbyists paying millions to keep the status quo in Sacramento.
A political action committee called “Coalition to Restore California’s Middle-Class Including Energy Companies Who Produce Gas, Oil, Jobs and Pay Taxes” was funded by Chevron, Valero, Phillips 66 and Marathon Petroleum. It spent more than $6 million across the state in 2022, funding the electoral campaigns of moderate Democrats and ensuring the election of a new class of politicians who would be wholly amenable to their influence.
CARB cannot be expected to meet its ambitious goals if the same politicians that must take actions to achieve these emission reduction numbers (and presumably, the penalties for missing them) are under the influence of oil and gas companies with a vested interest in stymieing the work of CARB. Those interests are keeping gas-guzzling cars on the road and the worst emitters in business via loopholes in the laws.
It is little wonder CARB is setting the stage for the possibility of missing its ambitious goals. Our state government is too vulnerable to the influence of oil and gas companies. Californians must be aware of this corrosive influence and they must insist that powerful oil lobbyists have no sway over climate regulations nor anything that would hinder the progress of meeting our 2030 emission standards.
In recent years, more than a dozen other states have chosen to follow California’s more stringent emissions standards, rather than the more flexible federal regulations. In total, those states represent more than 35% of all new auto sales in America. California, too, has pledged to stop selling cars that are not electric, hydrogen-fueled or at least plug-in hybrid by the year 2035.
This state is a national and global leader in carbon regulation and greenhouse gas emissions. It must remain at the forefront to have any chance at reversing climate change. That means clearing hurdles and setting lofty targets — even if we miss.