Where it’s no longer credible to deny climate change, the fossil fuel giant puts the focus on ‘risk’ and blame on consumers, in echo of tobacco industry PR, researchers find.
Sharon Kelly DeSmog International May 14, 2021
The fossil fuel industry is still promoting lies about reality, climate science, and the harmlessness of their product. Locally, in promoting the Jordan Cove Liquefied Natural Gas export facility, Pembina has claimed that natural gas is a clean0burning fossil fuel while Avista is now making the same claim about its product. Of course, the gas companies ignore the leakage of methane that negates the combustion benefit.
Meanwhile Exxon-Mobil is obfuscating nationally:

What’s the single word that fossil fuel giant ExxonMobil’s flagship environmental reports to investors and the public tie most closely to climate change and global warming?

According to newly published research from Harvard science historian Naomi Oreskes and Harvard research associate Geoffrey Supran, it’s a simple four-letter word, one that carries overtones not only of danger, but also — crucially — of uncertainty: risk.

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Featured Bill:

SB762-2 Establishing a program to address wildfire risk – introduced by Senator Jeff Golden.  This proposal contains numerous components.

  • requires electric utilities to exhibit wildfire conscious behavior; charges ODF and OSU to develop a wildfire risk map for the state; charges the state fire marshal with promoting defensible space;
  • charges Department of Land Conservation and Development with updating land use planning in response to the wildfire risk map;
  • charges Department of Buildings and Consumer Services with promoting fire resistant building codes;
  • charges Environmental Quality Commission (DEQ) with developing smoke management programs;
  • charges Office of Emergency Management with updating state codes regarding wildfire emergencies;
  • charges ODF with reducing wildfire risk;
  • establishes Oregon Wildfire Workforce Corps to assist in addressing wildfire risk;
  • charges ODF to develop a small woodland program to assist small woodland owners in reducing wildfire risk;
  • establishes a certified Burn Manager Program;
  • charges state forester and fire marshal with establishing program for protection areas;
  • charges ODF with improving wildfire response capacity;
  • redefines the Wildland Urban Interface.

While much in the proposal seems valuable, it seems not to recognize the critical role of wildfire in maintaining forest health in our Mediterranean (winter wet / summer dry) climate and seems not to identify as a highest priority in fire protection the areas around human dwellings and infrastructure.

The proposal received a Public Hearing on Friday April 9th;  SOCAN testimony was submitted.

General Information: 

What’s an OLIS?

The best way to find information on legislators, bills, or committees is via the Oregon Legislative Information Systems (OLIS to frequent users) website.  I have drafted a few tips on navigating the OLIS maize.   If you have any questions or suggestions for improving that page, please let me know.

Legislature Notes

The Oregon 2021 Legislative Session runs from January 19 through June 28t h.  This is the long (odd year) session which alternates with the short (6-week, even-year) session. Some 3000 bills have been slated.  SOCAN cannot monitor all of these, but we have searched bill language for those likely to be of interest.  The Government: Federal & State Project team then reviewed those potentially of interest and developed a list of recommended bills to support or oppose.  As amendments appear, the situation (favorability/unfavorability) may change as far as these – and other – bills are concerned.  Our goal will be to deliver written and/or oral testimony at relevant Hearings where possible regarding these bills.

If you’d like to read the bill, click on ‘Text.’ If you’d like to track any bills, click on ‘Status.’ If it was already assigned to a committee when I developed this page, I included that information.  If a Hearing has been set where we can deliver oral or written testimony, and I am aware of it, that information is included (if you find a Hearing that isn’t listed, please let me know).  If you wish to be apprised of Hearings of these (and other bills) visit the committee page and request email announcements about their meetings and agenda items.  This requires that you visit the Oregon Legislature website and find the Committees tab and the committee of interest (listed by House and Senate separately).  Then go to that committee and find the  the Follow: e-subscribe link on the top right of the committee page and sign up for announcements.  When committee meetings are scheduled, you will receive an email notification.  If you do not already have an Oregon Legislature account, you will be asked to set one up.

When a bill goes before the chamber, the person designated to assigned by the Committee Chair to explain and speak in favor of a measure on the floor and to answer questions about it is the ‘Carrier.‘  It would generally be assumed, I imagine, that this person is in favor of the proposal.

Interestingly, I was advised that when bills are subjected to second Hearing before the same committee, or move to another committee, submitted testimony does not automatically travel with the bill, so testimony has to be updated and resubmitted.

The most common committees to which bills of interest to SOCAN are assigned (with embedded links) are:

Senate Committee on Energy and Environment – Lee Beyer, Chair
Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Wildfire Recovery – Jeff Golden, Chair

House Committee on Energy and Environment – Pam Marsh, Chair

If and when bills pass out of these committees, they will likely move to Revenue, or Joint Ways and Means (and sub-committees thereof).  When this happens, I will try to add these committees to this list.

House Committee on Revenue – Nancy Nathanson, Chair

Here are the bills and information (and votes they received by our Federal & State Project team):

SOCAN SUPPORT Tier 1: Recent updates in purple

These are the bills we are watching closely.

7 – HB2062 – Establishes energy efficiency standards for certain appliances sold or offered for sale in this state.
Status Assigned to House Committee on Energy and Environment – recommended Do Pass; March 20th at House Desk awaiting Second Reading in chamber. Passed the House 39:19.  Though carried by Republican David Brock Smith (HD1), he voted against the bill in an almost, though not completely, party line vote with two Ds absent.  Forwarded to the Senate and assigned to Senate Committee on Energy and Environment; Hearing Scheduled for May 11.  Recommended Do Pass; Senate vote Passes 17:13; Awaits Governor’s signature Text. To Receive progress updates You will need to set up an account if you don’t already have one.

7 – HB2995 now HB2021 – Requires 100 percent of electricity sold in 2040 and each subsequent calendar year to Oregon retail electricity consumers to be generated from existing renewable energy resources or non-emitting energy resources.
Precludes the siting of electricity generation facilities that use coal, oil or fossil (natural) gas.,
Requires systems constructed on or after January 1, 2022, to be constructed pursuant to project labor agreement to qualify for exemption.
Promotes community-based renewable energy projects.

Status Initially assigned to House Committee on Energy and Environment
HB2995 has been rolled into HB2021 which would have required a study of clean energy (it’s colloquially called gut ‘n’ stuff) as HB2021-1.  Experienced a Public Hearing on Monday March 22nd @ 1:00 pm.  SOCAN testimony on HR2021-1,3 is available here. The bill has been subjected to three Public Hearings and a W0rk Session where Amendment – 23 was passed.  It was forwarded to the House Committee on Revenue.  Public Hearing was May 13th. Work Session (i.e. committee vote) scheduled May 18th SOCAN testimony available here.
Text of HB2021-23 To Receive Progress Updates You will need to set up an account if you don’t already have one.  Oregon Clean Energy Campaign Factsheet 

6- SB247 – Directs Department of Energy to study opportunities and challenges in Oregon for renewable energy, energy equity and development of clean energy workforce. Recommended by Committee
Status:  Assigned to Senate Committee on Energy and Environment.  No Hearing scheduled so probably dead for this session.
Text  To Receive Progress Updates You will need to set up an account if you don’t already have one.

6 – HB2488 –Requires that statewide land use planning goal relating to citizen involvement address participation and engagement for disadvantaged groups by June 2023.
Status: Assigned to House Committee on Energy and Environment.
Hearing:  SOCAN testimony on HB2488 submitted March 4th; SOCAN testimony on HB2488-2 submitted to members of committee April 4.  Note the focus of the proposal has been narrowed from the original content including greenhouse gas emissions reductions to target only climate justice issues. Amended bill passed House E & E 4:3 and forwarded to Joint Committee on Ways and Means. No action scheduled.
Text To Receive Progress Updates You will need to set up an account if you don’t already have one.

6 – HB2520This bill has been reworded to become the opposite of its initial intention: Requires Land Conservation and Development Commission to develop rules no later than July 1, 2022 by which county may justify exception to statewide land use planning goals for development of renewable energy facilities. It is no longer a bill that SOCAN would support.  

5 – SB 390 – Directs Public Utility Commission, in coordination with State Department of Energy, to study and develop proposal for modifying Oregon laws as necessary to require 100 percent of electricity sold to retail electricity consumers to be electricity generated utilizing renewable and carbon-free energy.
Status: Assigned to House Committee on Energy and Environment.  Work session scheduled for April 12th. 
Text To Receive Progress Updates  You will need to set up an account if you don’t already have one.

Status: Assigned to Senate Committee on Energy and Environment; No progress – probably since HB2021 is the same and is moving.
Text  To Receive Progress Updates You will need to set up an account if you don’t already have one.

5HB2190 – Directs State Department of Energy to convene work group to develop program awarding grants for community energy resilience projects and implement program no later than January 1, 2023.
Status:  Assigned to House Committee on Energy and Environment; no committee hearing scheduled – probably means it is dead.
Text  To Receive Progress Updates You will need to set up an account if you don’t already have one.

5 – HB2290 – Statewide Fast Charging . . . Requires statewide plan developed, installation of EV chargers Requires State Parks and Recreation Department to develop, implement and periodically update plan for installation and service of public electric vehicle charging stations in parking spaces that are part of facilities of state park system. Establishes Parks and Recreation Transportation Electrification Fund.
Status: Assigned to House Committee on Energy and Environment.  Passed out of committee, recommended Do Pass: Aye 7, 3 Nay 3, Excused 2, Abstention 0. Passed House floor 43:11, Referred to Senate Transportation. Recommended Do Pass – Awaiting third reading on Senate floor
Text To Receive Progress Updates You will need to set up an account if you don’t already have one.

5 – HB2357 – Initial proposal Eliminates Oregon Forest Resources Institute (OFRI) and Oregon Forest Resources Institute Fund.
Status Assigned to House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources.  Amended to establish Sound Forestry Practices Subaccount and Family Forestlands Subaccount as subaccounts of State Forestry Department Account. Recommended Do Pass: Aye 6, Nay 3, Excused 1, Abstention 0. Referred to House Committee on Revenue. Public Hearing scheduled 05/10 3:15 Hardly a proposal SOCAN would support.
Hearing Tuesday March 2nd at 3:15 pm; Testimony can be submitted via: https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/liz/2021R1/Testimony/HAGNR within 24 hours of the start of the meeting. SOCAN testimony on HB2357 submitted March 1st 2021.
Text To Receive Progress Updates You will need to set up an account if you don’t already have one.

5 – HB2398 – Adds Reach Code to state building code as specialty code and gives power of administration and interpretation of Reach Code to Director of Department of Consumer and Business Services and mandates achievement of not more than 90 percent of site energy use that other statewide residential and commercial building codes require.
Status: Assigned to House Committee on Energy and Environment; Work Session scheduled for April 12th
Text To Receive Progress Updates You will need to set up an account if you don’t already have one. SOCAN testimony on HB2398 submitted March 26th. Passed 4:3 referred to Joint Committee on Ways and Means

Added – SB335-2 Revising Governance of the Department of Forestry – introduced by Senator Jeff Golden.   A virtual Hearing before the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Wildfire Recovery was held during which public testimony (oral and written) was accepted, on Wednesday March 17th starting at 3:15 pm.  Testimony submitted on behalf of SOCAN is available here.  Follow-up testimony on SB337- 335-2 .  Unfortunately, following considerable pressure from the timber industry and their allies in the legislature, this bill has been pulled from further consideration.

SOCAN OPPOSE Tier 1:

These are the bills we are watching closely.

6 – SB675 – Instructs State Forestry Department to establish by rule pilot program to encourage salvage of timber from lands owned or managed by State Board of Forestry or department that have been affected by wildfire.
Status: Assigned to Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Wildfire Recovery; no hearing scheduled, probably means its dead for this session.
Text To Receive Progress Updates You will need to set up an account if you don’t already have one.

5 – SB544 – Requires State Forester to carry out appraisal and sale of forest products on state-owned forestland damaged by wildfire.
Status Assigned to Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Wildfire Recovery; Hearing held, no work session scheduled so probably dead for this session.
Text To Receive Progress Updates You will need to set up an account if you don’t already have one.

SOCAN Support Tier 2

These are not top priority but received some support and will be watched.

4 – SB56 – Authorizes Department of Environmental Quality to include amount estimated to equal economic benefit of violation when imposing civil penalty for violation of rule pertaining to a program to cap and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from large stationary sources, transportation fuels or other liquid and gaseous fuels, including natural gas.
Status: Assigned to Senate Committee on Energy and Environment; no Hearing scheduled – probably dead for this session.
Text To Receive Progress Updates You will need to set up an account if you don’t already have one.

4 – SB314 (with caveat) – Utilities Recover EV Charger Costs . . . Authorizes PUC to allow infrastructure cost recovery Authorizes Public Utility Commission to allow electric companies to recover costs from retail electricity consumers for prudent infrastructure measures to support transportation electrification if certain criteria are met. Authorizes commission to allow natural gas utilities to recover costs from retail natural gas customers for prudent investments in or expenses related to infrastructure measures that support adoption and service of alternative forms of transportation vehicles if certain criteria are met.
Concerns: Why only retail electricity;  does this promote fossil (natural) gas.
Status: Assigned to Senate Committee on Energy and Environment.  Recommended Do Pass and passed Senate floor vote: Aye- 25; Naye 2; Excused 2.  Assigned to House Energy and Environment Committee.  Regrettably this has been amended to promote Renewable Natural Gas so an unstated concern has been incorporated.  Unless amended to exclude RNG, this bill no longer deserves support.
Text  To Receive Progress Updates You will need to set up an account if you don’t already have one.

4 – HB2180 – Electricity for Electric Cars . . . Amends existing state building code. Requires Director of Department of Consumer and Business Services to amend state building code to require that new construction of certain buildings include provisions for electrical service capacity for specified percentage of parking spaces. Allows municipality to adopt local percentage of parking space requirements higher than state building code requirements.
Status: Assigned to House Committee on Energy and Environment.  Recommended Do Pass and Passed in House: Ayes 42; Nays 13; Excused 4. Forwarded to Senate E & E.
Text To Receive Progress Updates You will need to set up an account if you don’t already have one.

4 – HB2379 (with caveat) – HB2379 – Imposes severance tax on owner of timber at time of harvest at five percent of value of timber.
Concern that the best Severance tax imposition proposal should be supported.
Status: Assigned to House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources,  Hearing was February 25th, Testimony submitted by Alan Journet. Passed Aye 6 Nay 4. Subsequent referral to House Committee on Revenue.
Text To Receive Progress Updates You will need to set up an account if you don’t already have one.

4 – HB2475 – Authorizes Public Utility Commission to consider differential energy burden and other inequities of affordability in rates.
Status:  Assigned to House Committee on Energy and Environment.  Recommended Do Pass Aye 4; Nay 3. House Floor vote P 34:20  Senate E & E Recommended DO Pass 3:2. Senate Floor vote week of May 10.
Text To Receive Progress Updates You will need to set up an account if you don’t already have one.

4 – HB2842 – Establishes Healthy Homes Program within the Oregon Health Authority to provide grants to entities to provide financial assistance to low-income households and landlords.
Status: Assigned to House Committee on HousingPassed committee Ayes 8: Nays 0. Referred to Ways &  Means.
Text To Receive Progress Updates You will need to set up an account if you don’t already have one.

4 – LC1894/2902 – The joint resolution establishes principles, lays a framework of shared values, and lays the path forward for future policies and practices based on the right to ethical, balanced, healthy and responsible uses of land and renewable resources for future generations. Specifically, the resolution:
– Acknowledges the deep interconnection between present environmental impacts and crises and the history of structural racial and socioeconomic inequities in the state;
– Affirms that clean air and water, healthy food and a stable climate are basic human rights;
– Recognizes that frontline, impacted and traditionally underrepresented communities have lacked adequate services and infrastructure, which has made those communities more vulnerable to environmental and public health impacts.
Status – When this is assigned an HJR #$, we can track it.

SOCAN Oppose Tier 2

These are not top priority but received some support and will be watched.

4 – SB540 – Specifies that electricity generated by hydroelectric facility or other equipment that generates electricity through use of hydroelectric energy may be used to comply with renewable portfolio standard.
Status: Assigned to Senate Committee on Energy and Environment; No Hearing or work session scheduled so presumably dead for this session
Text To Receive Progress Updates You will need to set up an account if you don’t already have one.

4 – SB660 – Specifies that electricity generated by hydroelectric facility or other equipment that generates electricity through use of hydroelectric energy may be used to comply with renewable portfolio standard.
Status: Assigned to Senate Committee on Energy and Environment; No Hearing or work session scheduled so presumably dead for this session
Text To Receive Progress Updates You will need to set up an account if you don’t already have one.

4 – SJR6 Proposes amendment to Oregon Constitution to restate constitutional requirement that Oregon state government maintain and operate under balanced budget in which current expenses do not exceed current revenues, except where other existing provisions of Constitution authorize debt.
Status: Assigned to Senate Committee on Finance and Revenue; No Hearing or work session scheduled so presumably dead for this session
Text  To Receive Progress Updates You will need to set up an account if you don’t already have one.

4 – HB2692 – Exempts issuance of site certificate for small modular reactors from requirement that proposal by Energy Facility Siting Council to issue site certificate for nuclear-fueled thermal power plant must be approved by voters.
Status: Assigned to House Committee on Energy and Environment; No Hearing or work session scheduled so presumably dead for this session
Text To Receive Progress Updates  You will need to set up an account if you don’t already have one.

Procedural Bills of Interest concerning the absurd Oregon legislative quorum of 2/3rds:

SB 261 Prohibits members of Legislative Assembly from soliciting or using contributions to pay fines or legal expenses, replace salary, defray expenses or otherwise compensate members for monetary losses incurred as result of unexcused absences from sessions of Legislative Assembly. Assigned to Revenue; Public Hearing held (Republicans declined to attend), no work session scheduled so presumably dead this session. 
SB 262 Prohibits member of Legislative Assembly who is absent and unexcused when Legislative Assembly is in session from receiving salary, per diem or expense reimbursement, and imposes fine of $500 per day of unexcused absence. Assigned to Revenue; Public Hearing held (Republicans declined to attend), no work session scheduled so presumably dead this session. 
SJR 3 Proposes amendment to Oregon Constitution to provide that member of Legislative Assembly who, without permission or excuse, does not attend 10 or more scheduled legislative floor sessions of Legislative Assembly is deemed to be engaging in disorderly behavior and is disqualified from holding office as Senator or Representative for term following member’s current term of office.  Assigned to Revenue; Public Hearing held (Republicans declined to attend), no work session scheduled so presumably dead this session. 
SJR 4 Proposes amendment to Oregon Constitution to modify portion of each house of Legislative Assembly needed to be in attendance for quorum necessary for house to conduct business. Assigned to Revenue; Public Hearing held (Republicans declined to attend), no work session scheduled so presumably dead this session. 
Testimony submitted in support of  this concept by Alan Journet. See above for updates
———————————————————————————————————————-
Additional Bills potentially worthy of Support:
—————————-
HB3141:  Extends electric company public service charge to 2036 including funds for weatherization.
Text Passed House Committee on Energy and Environment by 5:2.  Referred to Joint Committee on Ways and Means. Hearing not yet scheduled.
HB2739: Increases temporarily, by $10 million annually, funds collected by electric companies for low-income electric bill payment and crisis assistance.  House Committee on Human Services – Passed 7:0. Referred to Joint Committee on Ways and Means. Hearing not yet scheduled.
SCR17: Establishes environmental justice framework of principles for State of Oregon. Senate Committee on Energy and Environment, Passed 5:0.  Passed Senate Chamber 22:7 .  Referred to House ENergy and Environment, Public Hearing held. No further action scheduled.
HB 2165: Requires electric companies that make sales of electricity to 25,000 or more retail electricity consumers in this state to collect amount from all retail electricity consumers, to be expended to support transportation electrification pursuant to plan accepted by Public Utility Commission. Text: Passed House Energy and Environment 7:0; Passed Transportation 8:4; Passed House Floor 35:12;  Referred to Senate Committee on Transportation. No action scheduled.
HB2180: Requires Director of Department of Consumer and Business Services to amend state building
code to require that new construction of certain buildings include provisions for electrical service
capacity for specified percentage of parking spaces. (20% of parking spaces if over 5 dwellings) Allows municipality to adopt local percentage of parking space requirements higher than state building code requirements. Text Passed House Energy & Environment 7:0; Passed House 42:13; Senate Energy and Environment Public Hearing 04/29; Work Session scheduled 05/11.

HB3375: Establishes goal of planning for development of up to three gigawatts of floating offshore wind energy projects within federal waters off Oregon Coast by 2030. Text House Energy and Environment Passed 6:1, Passed House Chamber 56:0:4 Excused; Senate Energy and Environment Hearing May 13th 1:00 pm; SOCAN testimony.

SB395: Increases required expenditure on footpaths and bicycle trails from one percent to five percent
of amounts received from State Highway Fund. Applies to Department of Transportation, counties
and cities under certain circumstances.
Updates Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee membership and duties. Text Public Hearing 03/04; No further action scheduled.
Potential Threats: 
HB2342: Imposes mandatory per-mile road usage charge for registered owners and lessees of passenger vehicles of model year 2027 or later that have rating of 30 miles per gallon or greater, beginning July 1, 2026. Text Assigned to Joint Committee on Transportation. Public Hearing was April 20th. Work Session was scheduled for May 6 but no reported vote.
Clearly, this will serve as a deterrent to the purchase Electric Vehicles at exactly the time when we need to be electrifying our entire  economy and society.  However, we must recognize that the basic source of funding for highways is the fuel tax, and as this dwindles with electrification, it will be necessary to find another funding source.
HB3072A: Allows local government to expand its urban growth boundary to include land designated as urban reserve that supports workforce housing and commercial development supportive of workforce housing if certain conditions are met.  Text  Assigned to House Committee on  Housing, Public Hearing, March 4th; Passed 5:3 and referred to House Committee on Rules.  Hearing yet to be scheduled.
This proposal could allow city expansion into the Wildland Urban Interface if landowner wishes to be annexed.
SB314 As introduced: Authorizes Public Utility Commission to allow electric companies to recover costs from retail electricity consumers for prudent infrastructure measures to support transportation electrification if certain criteria are met.
As amended and passed it also: Authorizes commission to allow natural gas utilities to recover costs from retail natural gas customers for prudent investments in or expenses related to infrastructure measures that support adoption and service of alternative forms of transportation vehicles if certain criteria are met.
Text  Referred to Senate Energy & Environment; Passed. Passed Senate Floor vote 25:2 Referred to House Energy & Environment Committee. Public Hearing held May 3rd.
As introduced this was excellent, but now promotes the RNG scam.
Watch for:
HB3055  Modifies, adds and repeals laws relating to transportation.
Text  Referred to Joint  Committee on Transportation; Public Hearing was 02/09 Work Session was scheduled for 04/27 but no result reported.
Contains same good language on electrification and bad language on RNG as SB314
SB784 Authorizes public utility to seek rate recovery for operating expenses and capital costs associated with resiliency measures from retail electricity consumers or natural gas consumers.
Directs Public Utility Commission to establish voluntary emission reduction program for
public utilities that furnish natural gas.
Text  Public Hearing was 03/09; Passed 4:1 April 13; Referred to Joint Committee on Ways and Means.
Notice same language on electrification and RNG.

Lorrie Kaplan, Ashland Daily Tidings,  October 7th, 2020

In the coming weeks, Ashland residents will elect a new mayor and three new city councilors. Several issues are on voters’ minds, with the health of the economy and the city budget topping the list. But as the ongoing fire season has made painfully clear, we have more than one crisis on our hands. Climate change is here and now, and it poses an existential threat to our lives and livelihoods far beyond the pandemic.

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Fossil Gas is extracted directly as a gas or as a bi-product of extraction of other fossil fuels.  It was named ‘Natural gas’ in a sublime moment that has seemingly labeled it forever as a benign product.  As marketed, this fuel contains some 90% methane, and thereby lies the problem as discussed below.

Fossil fuels have different efficiencies in terms of the carbon dioxide produced per unit of energy generated. For example, from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the number of pounds of CO2 emitted per million British thermal units (Btu) of energy for various fuels is identified below:

Coal (Anthracite)  228.6
Coal (bituminous) 205.7
Coal (lignite) 215.4
Coal (sub-bituminous) 214.3
Diesel fuel and heating oil 161.3
Gasoline (without ethanol) 157.2
Propane  139
Natural gas 117

But note that particulates are a major concern with diesel combustion.

The data above explain why the combustion of fossil gas seems to confer benefits in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.  What the fossil gas companies consistently fail to acknowledge, however, is the full life cycle assessment (LCA) of emissions.

The catch is that 90% methane content. We have long understood that other greenhouse gases are more potent as warming agents than carbon dioxide.  This understanding has led to the designation of other gases in terms of their Global Warming Potential (GWP) or Carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). This defines the warming potential of other gases in comparison to carbon dioxide, with CO2  designated as 1. Since other gases are stronger warming agents, they all have a higher GWP (or CO2e) than carbon dioxide. Thus, nitrous oxide has a GWP or 298, and Methane, which has a longevity in the atmosphere of about a decade compared to the longevity of carbon dioxide of between centuries and millennia, is designated by both its 100-year GWP of 34 and its 20-year GWP of 86.

For many years, fossil (natural) gas was considered to be cleaner than coal and oil. However, that bubble was burst earlier this decade (around 2014) when studies were reported of the full life cycle (cradle to grave/combustion) of the fuel. While previous estimates of the leakage (fugitive emissions) of the gas during extraction and processing had placed the value down in the 1% range, Robert Howarth reported a much higher percentage.  The critical issue is the cut-off point at which the fugitive emissions of methane during extraction and processing negate the combustion benefits.  Howarth and colleagues calculated this to be between 2.4 and 3.2%, mean 2.8%.  On calculating this value, they reasonably used the 20-year GWP value for methane based on the argument, known at the time, that we do not have centuries to solve the global warming problem but maybe a decade.  If leakages exceeds 2.8%, fossil gas is worse as a global warming energy source than coal.

The following 2014 graph produced by Carbon Brief  depicts the leakage rates assessed at that time.

For documentation of the cited values, visit the Carbon Brief  link.

Note how many of the studies report results hovering around or exceeding that critical threshold level of 2.8%.  A more recent study by Alvarez et al in 2018 reported a leakage value of 2.3%.

Not surprisingly, Howarth1 and his team also further assessed the actual fugitive emissions from fossil gas extraction and processing.  They reported the value for conventional fossil gas extraction as between 1.7% and 6.0% (mean 3.8%), while emissions from shale-fracked fossil gas ranged between 3.6 and 7.9%, (mean of 5.8%). These data indicate that fossil gas is never better than coal; it is profoundly not “the clean fossil fuel.”  Meanwhile, Schneissing2 reported 9.1% as the value for fugitive emissions and Howarth3 in a subsequent 2015 literature review, indicated the value was probably closer to 12%. Many subsequent studies have endorsed these findings. The concern was echoed by Powell4 in 2019.

The notion that fossil (natural) gas is ‘the clean fossil fuel’ has been completely debunked in the research literature.

Regrettably, fossil gas producers seem unable to prevent the emissions of methane – particularly as infrastructure ages.

It is for this reason that fossil gas is described as “the bridge to nowhere.”

The bottom line is that even if fossil gas is slightly better than coal or oil, it still emits a considerable amount of carbon dioxide when combusted, and results in substantial leakage of methane during extraction, processing, and transmission.  Fossil gas may be slightly better than coal or oil, but not by much, and might actually be worse.  It makes little sense for us to continue to promote vehicles, appliances and industrial processes that use fossil gas or install infrastructure – having a life span of decades, that collectively require the ongoing use of fossil gas.  It is far better to promote the electrification of all aspects of our energy economy.  This is because (a)  electric motors are far more efficient than internal combustion engines for transportation and even if that electricity is now generated by a fossil fuel-powered utility it will result in reduced emissions compared to oil,  and (b) in the very near future we will have converted fossil fuel electricity generators to renewable sources.

Citations:

1 – A bridge to nowhere: methane emissions and the greenhouse gas footprint of natural gas 2014 by Robert Howarth in Energy, Science and Engineering.  http://www.eeb.cornell.edu/howarth/publications/Howarth_2014_ESE_methane_emissions.pdf

2 – Remote sensing of fugitive methane emissions from oil and gas production in North American tight geologic formations: Remote sensing of fugitive methane emissions from oil and gas production, 2014 by Oliver Schneising, John P. Burrows, and Heinrich Bovensmann in Semantic Scholar. https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Remote-sensing-of-fugitive-methane-emissions-from-Schneising-Burrows/ebb006c04b06ebdad36f967bcc9cb291d33743e1

3 – Methane emissions and climatic warming risk from hydraulic fracturing and shale gas development: implications for policy, 2015 by Robert Howarth in Energy Emissions Control technologies 2015:3 45–54. http://www.eeb.cornell.edu/howarth/publications/f_EECT-61539-perspectives-on-air-emissions-of-methane-and-climatic-warmin_100815_27470.pdf

4 – Studying Full methane Life Cycle Critical to PNW Climate Policy 2019 by Tarika Powell in Sightline Institute Newsletter. https://www.sightline.org/2019/02/12/study-methane-life-cycle-critical-pacific-northwest/

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Southern Oregon Climate Action Now provides Southern Oregonians with an opportunity to learn where candidates stand on climate and environmental issues. All candidates for Oregon Senate Districts 1, 2, and 28; House Districts 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 55; and County Boards of Commissioners in Jackson and Josephine Counties were invited to be interviewed using questions that are identical for every candidate competing for that position. You Tube videos of the interviews are NOW AVAILABLE.

Jacksonville Review, January 9th 2020

Anyone watching local events can see the temperature rising, snowpack dwindling, fire season lengthening.  These trends are not peculiar to Southern Oregon.  Our planet has warmed approximately a degree Centigrade since the industrial revolution.  Trends are progressing faster than climate scientists have anticipated.  We are in precarious times; the need for action is urgent!

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The struggle to save the planet

At this point, we all know that climate change is happening (or at least most of us do). But do we really know what it will mean to live on a planet transformed by it? We know the seas will rise, but have we truly reckoned with the fact that they are on track to be four to eight feet higher by the end of the century, at which point they will drown the Maldives, the White House, St. Mark’s Basilica, and the Bengal tiger’s habitat? We know that Earth is getting hotter, but have we actually come to terms with what it would mean if half the world were so hot that it would essentially cook the human body to death, as would be the case with a temperature rise of 5 or 6 degrees Celsius?

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BOOKS IN REVIEW

THE UNINHABITABLE EARTH; LIFE AFTER WARMING

By David Wallace-Wells

Buy this book

LOSING EARTH; A RECENT HISTORY

By Nathaniel Rich

Buy this book

November 2019 Reminder Notes

1 – Legislative Days at the Capitol in Salem (Monday November 18th, 2019)

We have been absent from the Capitol building for several months.  Meanwhile, Timber Unity, Industry, and our well-oiled opponents and their lobbyists have been inundating legislators in the Capitol with their ongoing campaign of lies and misinformation.  On Monday (18th) we will try to recapture that sense of energy and enthusiasm for climate action that we demonstrated in the 2019 session.

To this end, we will be driving to Salem to (a) be seen in large numbers wandering the Halls in the Capitol, (b) visiting our legislators to indicate that we are still here and urging action, and (c) delivering letters from rural Oregon to those legislators demonstrating rural concern for action It would be helpful if those going to Salem were to carry  letters to their legislators (from themselves and anyone else they can tap to write a letter that:  1) identify why they were inspired by HB2020, 2) explain why they, as rural Oregonians, care, 3) Underline that this is unfinished business, and 4) urge a strong bill in the 2020 session. These can also be mailed / e-mailed: Find your state legislators: https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/FindYourLegislator/leg-districts.html

The plan is to leave the region about 8:00 – 8:30 to be in Salem by around noon.  We are trying to schedule legislator visits between 12:30 and 2:00 so we can head back soon after that – to return by 5:30 – 6:00.  If you plan to make the trip, please contact Alan (541-301-4107, alan@socan.eco) so we can keep you updated on plans and the schedule of meetings.  If you would like to join a car-pool, let Alan know so this can be arranged.  SOCAN will buy carbon offsets for those joining the car-pool to counter GHG emissions resulting from the trip.  A flexible one-on-one orientation to the day’s activity and legislator messaging has been scheduled for whenever we arrive – at the Salem (Marion County) Democratic Party HQ: 245 High St NE, Salem, OR 97301 any time between 8am – 4pm.

Please wear your orange SOCAN, grey MCP,  or the white Clean Energy Jobs T-Shirt since our goal is to be conspicuous by our presence.

2 – Urgent Action Requested – Help us take a stand against corporate polluters!

Would you like to close loopholes in Oregon law that currently allow cancer-causing chemicals like mercury, arsenic and lead to be released into our air, water, and soil? Sign The Toxics Reduction and Right to Know Act (IP 56) right now!

The Toxics Reduction and Right to Know Act will give Oregon voters a voice in the 2020 election to close toxic pollution loopholes and allow total transparency of toxic pollution. Here’s what it does:

Toxic pollution is making people sick and contributing to unnecessary deaths. Toxic pollution causes cancer. Toxic pollution causes asthma. Toxic pollution causes heart disease. Together we can reduce toxic pollution and lift the gag order that prevents local communities from learning which toxics go into their air, water and soil from industrial and commercial facilities.

The Toxics Reduction and Right to Know Act has been endorsed by Oregon League of Conservation Voters, Beyond Toxics, Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (PICUN), Oregon Environmental Council, NAACP Eugene/Springfield, Union of Concerned Scientists, and others in the Oregonians for Clean Air coalition (including SOCAN).

We are seeking signature on the first round petition drive to get the Secretary of State to accept the Ballot Measure.  This requires that statewide we gather 1000 signatures submitted to and reaching Renew Oregon by Wednesday (21st).  We’d like you to  download the form, sign it, and mail it by Monday at the latest to the address on the form: (Renew Oregon, Attention Sonny Mehta, P.O. Box 5999, Portland OR 97228).

By keeping Americans focused on the climate benefits of gas vs. coal, industry seeks to delay a broader debate of the deficits of gas vs. renewables.

October 17, 2019 – Environmental Health News

The natural gas industry is on an aggressive public relations tear to convince Americans that for decades to come, it is the “bridge” between coal and renewable energy.

The campaign is loaded with disinformation. The American Petroleum Institute (API) says it’s pushing gas as a “foundation for the future” because it is “clean.” Major fossil fuel companies including BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Shell are API members. The Independent Petroleum Association of America is playing up outdated 2008 praise of gas by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to decry pledges by leading 2020 Democratic presidential candidates to ban hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for gas.

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WILLIAM J. RIPPLE, CHRISTOPHER WOLF, THOMAS M. NEWSOME, MAURO GALETTI, MOHAMMED ALAMGIR, EILEEN CRIST, MAHMOUD I. MAHMOUD, WILLIAM F. LAURANCE, and 15,364 scientist signatories from 184 countries

Twenty-five years ago, the Union of Concerned Scientists and more than 1700 independent scientists, including the majority of living Nobel laureates in the sciences, penned the 1992 “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity” (see supplemental file S1). These concerned professionals called on humankind to curtail environmental destruction and cautioned that “a great change in our stewardship of the Earth and the life on it is required, if vast human misery is to be avoided.” In their manifesto, they showed that humans were on a collision course with the natural world. They expressed concern about current, impending, or potential damage on planet Earth involving ozone depletion, freshwater availability, marine life depletion, ocean dead zones, forest loss, biodiversity destruction, climate change, and continued human population growth. They proclaimed that fundamental changes were urgently needed to avoid the consequences our present course
would bring.

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