Santa Barbara County’s Global Warming Hall of Shame

Santa Maria Energy has been placing full-page ads in local papers objecting to the fact that County Supervisors required them to offset some of their greenhouse gas emissions. They think it’s “unfair” they don’t get an unlimited license to pollute for free and pass along the costs to the rest of us.

We are experiencing the impacts of climate change now. We are seeing more intense and deadly storms, record-breaking fires and droughts, spreading tropical diseases, heat waves and rising seas. The oceans are more acidic affecting the oyster industry in the Pacific Northwest and people’s livelihoods. Our local agricultural economy and our children’s future are at risk.

What is “unfair” is that people are suffering and dying today from the impacts of global warming, including 5600+ people from one of the largest storms ever recorded in the Philippines, and Santa Maria Energy is quibbling about a sixty cent per barrel cut in their profits.

What is “unfair” is that Santa Maria Energy is threatening politicians for taking a modest step to limit greenhouse gas emissions, even though according to polling by the Public Policy Institute of California, 81% of Californians want oil companies to reduce emissions.

The Santa Maria Energy project will be one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the County, generating over 87,000 tons of emissions per year, or the equivalent of adding 17,000+ cars to our roads. The recent decision by County Supervisors requires the company reduce or purchase offsets for emissions above a 10,000 ton per year threshold. The cost for them will be peanuts, an estimated half-a-million bucks a year out of $110 million a year in revenues.

The politicians who should be “judged in the court of public opinion” are not the Supervisors whose decision Santa Maria Energy doesn’t like, but the politicians who went out of their way to advocate for Santa Maria Energy’s right to pollute for free — some even outright denying global warming.

That dubious list includes:

Steve Lavagnino, County Supervisor
Peter Adam, County Supervisor
Michael Bennett, Mayor Pro Tempore Goleta
Jim Richardson, Mayor of Solvang
John Linn, Mayor of Lompoc
DeWayne Holmdahl, City Council of Lompoc
Frances Romero, Mayor City of Guadalupe
Alice Patino, Mayor Santa Maria

The majority of County residents want our Supervisors to ensure oil companies are operating safely, paying for their pollution, and held accountable. They do not want politicians who are in the pocket of the oil companies. Santa Maria Energy’s call to action is a blatant attempt to buy our elections and will be resisted.

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Climate Group 350 Santa Barbara Holds Candlelight Vigil for Typhoon Victims in Philippines

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Published in Noozhawk:

Climate group 350 Santa Barbara held a candlelight vigil on Nov. 26 at De la Guerra Plaza followed by a silent walk to Stearns Wharf to honor victims of Typhoon Haiyan, a category 5 “super storm” that struck the Philippines last month.
The slightly out-of-season and unusually intense storm is estimated to have killed 10,000 people and displaced 14 million people.

Climate change educator Katie Davis played a recording of the speech that Yeb Saño, lead climate negotiator from the Philippines, delivered to the United Nations climate talks. He called Haiyan a “climate nightmare” and urged international leaders to take drastic actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Last week, MIT climate scientist Kerry Emanuel and colleagues ran a computer model they use to forecast the wind speeds in a storm like Haiyan and ran it with the climate conditions that were present in the 1980s, before the warming of the last few decades. They concluded that the thermal conditions of 30 years ago would have produced a typhoon 30 to 40 percent less destructive.

Currently the world has an atmospheric concentration of 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide — the primary gas responsible for the global trend in warming since the industrial revolution. Scientists agree that 350 parts per million is the safe upper limit of carbon dioxide. In order for us to prevent more intense wildfires, droughts and storms like Haiyan, Katrina and Sandy, we we must cut carbon emissions down to this level.

350 Santa Barbara is a volunteer organized, autonomous local chapter of 350.org. Click here for more information.