California’s New Climate Goal Undermined by Fracking Pollution

Sacramento, California — Gov. Jerry Brown today announced an important new plan to reduce California’s greenhouse gas pollution by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. But the governor’s executive order on climate change isundermined by his support for fracking and dangerous oil production. Leading climate experts have called on the governor to impose a moratorium on fracking in the state.

“Gov. Jerry Brown deserves credit for this important step toward fighting global warming, but the governor continues to undermine his own plans by backing fracking,” said Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute. “Fracking pollution threatens to blow a huge hole in California’s target for reducing planet-warming emissions. No plan to prevent climate disruption can succeed if it doesn’t include a rapid transition away from fracking and other dangerousoil and gas production.”

The governor’s plan to cut carbon emissions in California — the world’s seventh largest economy — is more ambitious than the national climate plan recently announced by the Obama administration in advance of this year’s internationalclimate talks in Paris.

But the California plan is on the low end of the range of cuts scientists say developed economies must make to help prevent more than 2 degrees Celsius of warming. The United States and other developed countries must cut pollutionby at least 35 percent to 55 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 to do their fair share in helping to avoid a climatecatastrophe, according to calculations by a team of climate scientists tracking international negotiations.

Up to half of all new wells in California are now fracked, according to the California Council on Science and Technology. Oil companies are also ramping up other ultra-hazardous production methods, including cyclic steam injection, used to produce particularly dirty, carbon-intensive petroleum. Some California crude is about as carbon-intensive as tar sands oil.

A study in the Journal of Geophysical Research found that the methane leak rate from Los Angeles-area oil and gas operations was 17 percent. Because methane is a powerful greenhouse pollutant, leakage rates of more than about 3 percent can make these fuels about as climate-disrupting as coal.

“While California is showing that the United States can do better at cutting greenhouse pollution, the science says we have to do even more to avoid climate disruption’s worst effects,” Siegel said. “Oil industry pollution also makes people sick and destroys precious wildlife habitat. To protect our climate and our communities, Gov. Brown must resolve to leave California’s dirty fossil fuels in the ground.”