A few words about biogas
As schoolchildren now remind us, fighting climate change is vital to our future, and we can't stop climate change if we keep getting energy from burning things. That means taking meaningful steps every year to significantly reduce the use of coal, oil, and gas, and increase the use of renewable energy, with a goal of getting to 100% renewable energy across the state.
That vision spells the end of large fossil fuel companies like SoCalGas, which is deploying lobbyists and setting up astroturf organizations to portray itself as part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Their strategy includes visits to local neighborhood groups, where they show pro-gas videos and ask people to sign up for their pro-gas pressure group. The video and their web site try to convince people that SoCalGas is transitioning to using green, renewable biogas from cows...but fail to mention that all the manure from every factory farm in the state together only produces enough gas for a tiny fraction of our energy needs, and that cleaning up the gas and transporting it to where it can be used productively is difficult and currently only possible with huge subsidies.
In short, SoCalGas is engaged in greenwashing, and they're probably coming to a neighborhood council meeting near you sometime soon. If they ask to be put on your agenda, please reach out to the Advocacy Committee so we can help you prepare.
—Dan Kegel, Advocacy Committee Chair
The SoCalGas webpage https://www.socalgas.com/smart-energy/renewable-gas/what-is-renewable-natural-gas gives the impression of the sort of farm we like to think of; indeed, the images depict a farm with animals grazing on the land.
The reality is very different. The actual plan is to collect the gases emitted from the manure lagoons of concentrated animal feedlot operations (CAFOs). In these operations, animals are confined in such a way that their urine and feces fall into troughs that lead to what are called "manure lagoons." These lagoons have been a major problem for CAFOs—they release gases that pollute the air and liquids that pollute the local water.
The idea, then is to enclose the lagoons and extract the methane, which can be used as a fuel to be marketed, or to run generators to create electricity. This article gives a good basic criticism of this idea and CAFOs generally (and a better use for animal wastes). As is said in the article, "Government programs should support farming practices that are inherently sustainable rather than inherently demanding of remediation."
—Don Dwiggins, Steering Board Member
Food & Water Watch also has several resources on the subject. You can read a handout here: https://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/sites/default/files/fs_1903_socalgas-web.pdf and watch a webinar here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ISG9KTNGYk
And here is an article from The Sacramento Bee:
This is from the Union of Concerned Scientists:
100% clean, renewable energy by 2030
The NCSA calls for LADWP to reach 100% renewable energy by 2030, to refrain from any new investments in fossil fuel infrastructure, and to ensure that all residents of Los Angeles reap the benefits of the transition to renewable energy.
Below is more information. We invite you to contact Dan Kegel at email@example.com or Lisa Hart at 323.660.2780 with any questions.
- Renewable energy letter
- Suggested text for motion (updated November 4, 2016 to include CIS language)
- Why Renewable Energy (updated October 22, 2016)
- Background from Food & Water Watch
- LADWP 2015 Integrated Resource Plan
- Vision for 100% Clean Energy: A Path Forward—Board of Water and Power Commissioners, LADWP
- Sierra Club motion (passed unanimously by City Council September 16, 2016)
- LADWP Integrated Resource Planning workshops flier
- CityWatch article—The Future is Here: A 100% Clean-Powered Los Angeles!
- Neighborhood councils that voted in support by the NCSA deadline of November 17, 2016
- Evan Gillespie of the Sierra Club
- Loraine Lundquist of Cal State Northridge
- Tony Wilkinson of the DWP MOU Oversight Committee
You can download it and listen to it from this link: drive.google.com/file/d/0B3EDpHNxsF4kLVY1ZE5JcFV5aFU/view
NEW!!!!!!! The NCSA Advocacy Committee is asking all neighborhood councils to submit a community impact statement to Council File 16-0243 requesting that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) study how to get to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2030. While the DWP is studying a pathway to 100% renewable energy, they are not studying a 100%-by-2030 scenario, and are including sources of energy that are not considered “clean.”
Additional resources are here:
- Food & Water Watch CIS statement
- Council File 16-0243 original motion
- Council File 16-0243 amended motion
Establishment of a 2,500-foot Health and Safety Setback Around Oil and Gas Extraction in Los Angeles
The NCSA membership has voted to support the establishment of a 2,500-foot health and safety setback around oil and gas extraction in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles is one of the only places in the US where oil drilling occurs right in the middle of a densely populated urban metropolis. Over 620,000 Angelenos live within a half-mile of an active oil well.
The science is clear that the use of 12 common chemicals used by oil companies during extraction and production exposes people to health risks such as respiratory illness, cancer, damage to the nervous system, cardiovascular disease, reproductive and endocrine disruption, and irritation of the eyes, nose, and skin.
South Coast Air Quality Management District data show that roughly 265 reported well stimulation events from June 2013 through June 2014 occurred at sites within 1,500 feet of at least one hospital, preschool, or residence—and some were as close as 12 feet. Many wells are close to several facilities housing people especially vulnerable to toxic chemicals such as children, the elderly, and people who are already sick.
Of the roughly 1,000 active wells in Los Angeles, more than half are located in low-income neighborhoods of color, which are already overburdened by environmental hazards. Residents from these neighborhoods have documented serious health problems—including nosebleeds, chronic migraines, nausea, asthma, and other respiratory illness—in addition to daily disruption from drilling noise and vibrations, foul odors, and diesel truck traffic.
Oil drilling sits in Los Angeles also emit smog-forming gases that worsen Los Angeles’ air quality, such as hydrogen sulfide, benzene, toluene, nitrogen oxides, and volatile organic compounds.
Continued oil extraction and production in the City of Los Angeles is incompatible with the goals set forth by the mayor’s Sustainability pLAn, which requires dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas emission and maps out a clean energy economy for Los Angeles in order to combat climate change. The time to begin a just transition to clean energy is now.
There is a broad and growing coalition of organizations and neighborhood councils supporting a 2,500-foot health and safety setback separating oil and gas extraction from sensitive land uses such as homes, schools, and hospitals. Studies have shown this is the minimum safe distance to mitigate the health and safety risks posed by oil and gas extraction.
Below is more information. We invite you to contact Lisa Hart at firstname.lastname@example.org or 323.660.2780 with any questions.
Below are a few sustainability-related advocacy opportunities for consideration by Neighborhood Councils. The NCSA has not taken a position on these.
SB 380 (approved May 10, 2016)
SB 380 is an urgency bill introduced by Senator Fran Pavley that will keep a moratorium on gas injections at the Aliso Canyon Gas Storage Facility until each well is inspected and deemed safe by state regulators at the Division of Oil Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR). SB 380 also calls for a report by the California Public Utilities Commission and the California Energy Commission on how to keep Aliso Canyon shut down permanently or have the use of the field minimized.
Food & Water Watch is working in conjunction with Senator Pavley's office and Save Porter Ranch to support this bill. If your neighborhood council is interested in learning more about signing on to support SB 380 or having a representative for Food & Water Watch come to your meetings and present, please contact Alexandra Nagy at email@example.com.
Solar by 2025 goal
Environment California is calling for Neighborhood Councils to pass a resolution urging Mayor Garcetti to achieve as a minimum his 1,500 megawatts of local solar by 2025 goal, and to make a strong effort to exceed that goal. The Mayor’s Office needs to know that the neighborhoods of Los Angeles support the mayor’s vision for LA’s local solar future. With the neighborhoods calling for strong action and ambitious targets, Mayor Garcetti will be empowered to renew his call for 25% or more local solar power by 2025.
Please connect with Garrick Monaghan, Environment California’s Solar Campaign Organizer, to learn more about this campaign and have him speak at your council or committee meetings. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 916-622-3621. More information about Environment California is available here.
Greenhouse gas emissions (passed May 17, 2016)
Paula Waxman of the South Robertson Neighborhood Council, email@example.com, encourages all Neighborhood Councils to write Community Impact Statements in support of Council File Motion #14-0907, also known as the “80 x 50 Motion.” This is a resolution requesting that city departments / bureaus conduct feasibility studies on actions they can take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to at least 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 and the DWP by 2030.
Fossil fuel divestment
Fossil Free LA is calling on individuals and institutions to take advantage of current trends in the energy sector, protect their finances, and show true climate leadership by 1) freezing any new investment in the top 200 fossil fuel companies and 2) divesting within five years from direct ownership or any commingled funds that include fossil fuel public equities or corporate bonds.
Divestment and reinvestment are a crucial part of a holistic climate strategy aiming to accelerate the transition away from unhealthy, unsafe fossil fuel projects and to increase renewable energy infrastructure, community development, and a more independent energy system.
Specifically, Fossil Free LA is calling on the City of Los Angeles Municipal Fund Managers, Los Angeles City Employees’ Retirement System, and the Department of Los Angeles Fire and Police Pensions to divest from oil and thermal coal company investments.
- Draft Motion
- Talking Points
- Cities and Counties in Support
- Bill de Blasio Begins Push to Divest New York City Coal Investments
- D.C. Council to make another attempt to ditch investments in fossil fuels
- Financial Impact Fact Sheet
- Trillium Asset Management Support Letter
- Silver Lake NC motion
- Silver Lake NC letter
- Studio City NC letter
Mobility Plan 2035
A broad coalition of transportation and community advocates is supporting Mobility Plan 2035, the City's first comprehensive update to its transportation element since 1999. This plan provides a balanced framework for how the needs of people walking, biking, driving and taking transit are addressed by a multimodal transportation network, with safety as the first goal. The plan has many benefits for health, sustainability and access that you can read about here. Mobility Plan supporters include: Los Angeles Walks, Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, LA Area Chamber of Commerce, Valley Industry & Commerce Association, FAST (Fixing Angelenos Stuck in Traffic), Los Angeles River Revitalization Corporation, Climate Resolve, Natural Resources Defense Council, AARP, Community Health Councils and others. Neighborhood Councils are encouraged to follow the lead of Eagle Rock and Los Feliz by adopting supportive Community Impact Statements and embracing complete streets in your communities. For more information, go to: http://la2b.org/ or http://la-bike.org/mobilityplan.
Antibiotics use on factory farms (adopted March 31, 2016)
The Healthy Farms to Healthy Families Campaign is working to bring Los Angeles in coalition with over 50 other cities — including San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago and many others — demanding Congress act on an emerging global health crisis. Antibiotics abuse is rampant in the U.S. food system, and business and regulators are unaccountable to the severity of the crisis. The Campaign is working with community organizations, environmental groups and local businesses to pass a motion in City Hall calling on Congress to Act.
Please contact Walker Foley at firstname.lastname@example.org if you might like your NC to endorse the Healthy Farms to Healthy Families Campaign or would like a representative to present at your next meeting.
Cooling and urban heat impacts (passed May 4, 2016)
Methane (stalled and expired in Energy and Environment Committee)
Organics composting (stalled in Energy and Environment Committee)
(Bonin, Huizar, Koretz/O’Farrell)