“We are guinea pigs.” Valley groups talk about California’s climate change plan

Dozens of residents of the central San Joaquin Valley He expressed his frustration about the California Air Resources Board’s massive carbon sequestration plans during a community hearing at Fresno City College Wednesday night.

They condemned the CARB’s proposed climate change plan that would require up to 150 million tons of carbon dioxide from ambient air and fossil fuel power plants to be captured and stored annually, presumably under the San Joaquin Valley.

Residents also told CARB President Liane Randolph and board members Hector de la Torre and John Eisenhout that they are concerned that the technology is a fossil fuel delay tactic, that the CARB plan is inadequate and will force them to live with unacceptable levels of pollution for an additional 10 years.

Rather than making significant reductions in pollution by mass substituting fossil fuels with wind, solar and energy storage, they said, the CARB plan paves the way for extending the life of the state’s fossil fuel facilities for another decade by relying on carbon capture technology.

This has the effect of securing exposure to pollution from power plants and industrial processes while putting rural communities in the San Joaquin Valley on the front lines of a risky geoengineering experiment.

Residents of Mendota, who live near one of the state’s first attempts to build a carbon sequestration project, talked about how the project linked harmful pollution from agricultural waste and geoengineering, all less than a mile from Mendota High School.

“It feels like we’re guinea pigs here,” said Ophelia Ochoa, a resident of Mendota.

Berta Alvarado said she was concerned that CARB’s reliance on carbon sequestration “would only pollute and endanger us.”

Only a campaign of community opposition and a series of last-minute meetings with regional officials at the Environmental Protection Agency prevented Chevron and clean energy systems from building the Mendota carbon sequestration project last year.

CARB . Hearing
Valley residents speak to CARB President Liane Randolph about the state’s climate change scope plan, during a hearing at Fresno City College on Wednesday, August 3, 2022. Gregory Weaver

Juan Flores, an organizer with the Center on Race, Poverty, and the Environment, said the draft CARB climate plan relies on ecological extraction from rural valley communities.

“This is the only scale plan that can change the face of California for generations to come, for good or for bad,” he said. “Stop doing the trials of our communities, the areas of sacrifice.”

CARB’s scoping plan has met with widespread criticism

In May, California released a draft of its Climate Scoping Plan, the state’s five-year plan to combat climate change.

The plan’s main goal is to reduce California’s annual carbon dioxide emissions to zero by 2045.

Nearly 70% of the emissions reduction will come from electrification of the state’s transportation, industry, and construction sectors, channeling billions of dollars of state money into subsidizing electric vehicles, transforming the state’s power grid and removing industrial pollution.

However, the plan drew immediate criticism for the unprecedented role that carbon sequestration plays in the state’s remaining 30% cuts, as well as delaying the state’s carbon transition by a decade. Technology critics point out that nearly every carbon sequestration project in the world has failed to achieve its CO2 reduction goals, and that the technology does little to reduce toxic byproducts such as PM2.5 pollution emitted from fossil fuel infrastructure.

CARB justified its initial decision to delay decarbonization of the state by saying that California, the world’s fifth largest economy, cannot afford to decarbonize by 2035.

Unsatisfied with the CARB’s calculations, newspaper editorial boards, think tanks and community groups have pointed out the plan’s massive computational errors and called for the CARB to review the climate scoping plan.

In June, communities across the state Stacked in CARB اجتماعات meeting room in Sacramento to show their opposition to the plan’s climate delays and reliance on carbon capture technology.

The crowd was so large that the CARB called an emergency series of hearings across the state to hear more communities about the plan’s vision for California’s climate future.

Wednesday’s meeting in Fresno was part of the Valley’s emergency sessions. Nearly 100 community residents, agribusiness representatives and dairy farmers attended to give CARB their input on carbon capture, dairy digestion, electric vehicle subsidies and pesticide regulation.

Fresno leader says CARB’s climate plan isn’t doing enough to protect women and children

The loudest roar of applause came tonight when Dr. Vince Curry, a leader with Citizens Concerned in West Fresno, told Randolph that a 10-year delay in the plan to cut emissions was unacceptable from a women’s and infant health standpoint.

In southern Fresno, blacks suffer from an infant mortality rate “that rivals third world countries,” she said.

Previous reports by Fresnoland found that the main cause of this public health disaster was institutional racism, which created a network of highways and industrial development that exposed pregnant women in southern Fresno to the highest levels of PM2.5 pollution in the state. This contamination is associated with an increased maternal risk of preterm labor and fetal death.

Carrie Randolph told that delaying the state’s decarbonization schedule for another decade would result in CARB missing a major opportunity to reduce PM2.5 pollution and save the lives of women and children across the state.

“What we don’t want is a solution that will affect our already overburdened communities,” Carey said.

‘It is not enough to include [environmental justice] If there is no implementation, if there is no respect, the real problems that completely shorten the life span.”

This story was originally published August 5, 2022 5:00 a.m.

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