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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

California's GHG emissions now below 1990 levels

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) announced today that statewide emissions of greenhouse gasses have fallen below 1990 levels for the first time since 2004.

The emission reductions are roughly equal to taking 12 million cars off of the road or saving 6 billion gallons of gasoline.

In 2006 California passed its landmark climate change law, AB 32, which requires the state to reduce its emissions to 1990 levels - 431 million metric tons) by 2020.  According to the state's 2016 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory published today, California's emissions were 429 million metric tonnes.

Governor Jerry Brown made note of the achievement, saying, "California set the toughest emissions targets in the nation, tracked progress, and delivered results."

Added CARB Chair Mary Nichols, "This is great news for the health of Californians, the state's environment and its economy, even as we face the failure of our national leadership to address climate change.

Highlights from the inventory published today include:
  • Carbon pollution dropped 13 percent statewide since a 2004 peak; meanwhile the economy grew 26 percent.
  • Per capita emissions continue to be among the lowest in the country. They fell 23 percent from a peak of 14 metric tons per person (roughly equal to driving 34,000 miles) in 2001 to 10.8 metric tons per person in 2016 (roughly equal to driving 26,000 miles). That is approximately half as much as the national average.
  • Carbon pollution dropped 3 percent between 2015 and 2016—roughly equal to taking 2.4 million cars off the road or saving 1.5 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel.
  • The “carbon intensity” of California’s economy – the amount of carbon pollution emitted per $1 million of gross state product – dropped 38 percent since the 2001 peak and is now one-half the national average.
  • California now produces twice as many goods and services for the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions as the rest of the nation.
Electricity generation had the largest decline among the sectors. Emissions from this sector declined 18 percent in 2016, reflecting continued growth in renewable energy – such as solar, wind and geothermal – as a result of the state’s Renewables Portfolio Standard, and a corresponding drop in natural gas generation. Solar electricity in all forms, including rooftop generation, grew 33 percent, while natural gas fell more than 15 percent.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District has just issued the following press release concerning the air pollution risks from fireworks:

Photo © Frank Maccioli

Air officials ask Valley residents to consider negative health effects of fireworks
Fireworks elevate PM levels and threaten public health

This Independence Day, Air District officials remind Valley residents that July 4th fireworks can increase levels of dangerous particulate matter (PM), including soot, ash and metals, which cause serious health impacts. Individuals most at risk are small children, the elderly and people with existing respiratory conditions.

“If Valley residents feel the need to enjoy fireworks, we urge them to exhibit their patriotism by attending a professional Independence Day event in their area instead of using personal fireworks,” said Samir Sheikh, the District’s Deputy Air Pollution Control Officer. “Each year, people suffer serious health consequences from direct exposure in the neighborhoods where they live and breathe… from firework activities that are entirely preventable.”

Fine particulate matter can invade the bloodstream, get deep into the lungs and has been linked to heart attacks and stroke. Each year on the Fourth of July, air monitors across the Valley reflect spikes in PM concentrations, often four to five times higher than the health-based federal standards, and typically occur between the hours of 9 and 10 pm. These spikes are due in part to personal fireworks used throughout Valley neighborhoods and the high levels of PM threaten the Valley’s progress in meeting air-quality standards that protect public health. (An attached graph illustrates a typical increase in PM following fireworks).

The District’s Real-time Air Advisory Network (RAAN) provides localized air quality data from an extensive air-monitoring network which allows Valley residents to track PM at any Valley address by visiting

For more information about the Air District, call a regional office in Fresno (559) 230-6000, Modesto (209) 557-6400 or Bakersfield (661) 392-5500.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

New California ballot measure will let paint companies off the hook for lead cleanup, charge taxpayers instead

In an attempt to avoid spending hundreds of millions of dollars to remove hazardous lead paint from California homes, two of the liable companies have successfully qualified a ballot initiative for this November that would transfer the responsibility to taxpayers.

Photo credit:  USEPA Environmental-Protection-Agency (Lead Paint) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Sherwin-Williams and ConAgra collected enough signatures to qualify the measure,which would upend their court ordered obligations for the clean up of homes built before 1951. The two companies, along with NL Industries, had been successfully sued by Los Angeles, San Francisco, and 8 other areas and found liable for creating a public nuisance.

The courts found that the companies knowingly sold and advertised lead paint, despite having knowledge that it had serious health effects, especially in children.

Lead paint was banned for home use in 1978.

If approved by California voters, the measure would authorize a $2 billion taxpayer funded loan to pay for the cleanup.

The proponents of the measure have argued that it will provide sufficient funding not only for lead paint removal but also for the removal of mold and other hazards from homes and schools throughout the state and not just in the cities that won the lawsuit.

However, the companies and legislators are reportedly negotiating legislation that would limit their liability to $500 million over the next decade, overturn the court ruling, and absolve them from additional liability. If successful, they will be able to remove the initiative from the ballot but it must be done by tomorrow, June 28.