Fossil Fuel Resistance


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What We Do - 350SV Fossil Fuel Resistance Team

After the successful resistance to building of the Keystone XL pipeline, we now organize to fight the import of tar sands bitumen to Bay Area refineries. We work to build support for regional, state and federal policies focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transportation fuels in the Bay Area, California and nationwide. After having been denied shipment of dirty oil through the Keystone XL pipeline, Phillips 66 is now trying to ship  oil from Canada through the East Bay and San Jose southward to San Luis Obispo County by rail.  We worked to get many cities on the train route to oppose the project. We oppose any new major fossil-fuel infrastructure development in our area, they are unnecessary and irresponsible from a climate, and public health and safety perspective. For example the city of Oakland is plagued by a new proposal for a massive increase in its port facilities to enable shipments of coal from Wyoming and Utah to Asian markets. We support the people of Oakland to kill this project.

How We Do It:

• We’ve helped organize the largest climate rally in Bay Area history on 2/17/13

• On Feb. 4, 2016 we mobilized a bus-load and more of people, to rally and speak to the San Luis Obispo County Planning commission to urge that the oil train project through the Bay Area to San Luis Obispo is not approved .

•  We’ve commented at a public workshop of the Bay Area Air District on refinery emissions regulation.

• We are resisting the creation of new fossil fuel infrastructure, such as refinery expansions, and rail terminals allowing transportation of oil or coal by rail.

Why We Do It:

1. Tar Sands = Game Over For The Planet

Top climate scientist James Hansen has calculated that if you burned all the recoverable oil from the tar sands of Canada, it would be “game over for the planet.”  Fifty years from now, no one will care at all about the fiscal cliff, or the other things that consume our op-ed pages and think tanks. They’ll look back at this year and say: “The Arctic melted. What did you do?” Blocking Keystone XL was not the only thing, but it was a game changing first step.

2. Stop More Oil Spills

Tar sands bitumen is very abrasive and corrosive to pipes. There has already been numerous tar sands spill like the Exxon Mobil Pegasus pipeline that burst in Mayflower, Arkansas, on March 29, 2013 pumping tar sands oil into a residential neighborhood for almost an hour. Tar sands spills, whether from pipelines or railroad cars, are much more difficult to clean up than normal oil spills.

3. Bay Area Must Lead The Nation

The Bay Area is one of the most prosperous and technologically advanced metropolitan areas in the world. We can either lead the nation toward a clean energy future, or stand by and watch as the climate catastrophe unfolds. Let the Bay Area be the tip of the spear for the Climate Movement.

Why Rally on Climate Now?

Keystone XL was just one of several multi-billion dollar pipeline projects designed to move oil from the land-locked tar sands of Alberta to sea ports that are the key to unlocking global markets. The proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline would send up to five hundred thousand barrels per day to Kitimat, British Columbia, for export to Asian markets and California. As one of the largest crude oil markets in the U.S., California is expected to get half the oil supplied by Enbridge Gateway Pipeline. Refineries in California are already beginning to process tar sands.

Discouraging dirty fuel expansion in our state will spur availability of cleaner alternatives such as second generation biofuels, help curb climate pollution and improve the health of California’s most vulnerable communities. And by reducing demand for tar sands crude, we’ll also help Canadians who are fighting their own battles against dirty oil pipelines.

The Global Climate Crisis and California

The climate crisis:  Rising CO2 emissions are dangerously warming the planet, with accelerating negative impacts.  Extreme weather events are increasing in frequency, scale, and intensity—worldwide.  The climate crisis has come home to the US—epic drought, devastating wildfires, and superstorm Sandy—and the American people get it.  We need rapid emission reductions to preserve a healthy future for our children and grandchildren.  By rejecting expensive new oil infrastructure projects, we uphold our moral responsibility to the future. 

Bay Area shorelines will suffer devastating floods: Climate change has the potential to raise the level of the world’s seas by 3-5 feet (or more) over the next century, with drastic local consequences. 333 square miles of Bay shoreline are threatened with flooding, putting 270,000 people at risk and representing an estimated $62 billion in damages and mitigation costs. Continued burning of fossil fuels will drive sea level rise, with devastating impacts to all the Bay's shores and ecosystems, wetlands and estuaries, airports and infrastructure, and residential and commercial developments.

Our state will suffer severe water shortages: Emissions from extracting, refining and burning tar sands oil will raise temperatures and keep our snowpack melting, resulting in drier summers and more flooding in winter. Sierra Nevada snowpacks hold one third of California's surface water throughout winter, releasing it in spring and summer. If our current emissions of greenhouse gases continue, snow levels will decline by up to 90 percent. This would result in severe water shortages, harming the Bay's residents, businesses, and endangered species.  Phasing out fossil fuels will help mitigate all this—it’s critical for the Bay area and California.

Bay Area species will be driven to extinction: Many species (such as the salt marsh harvest mouse and the California clapper rail), cling to a precarious existence in the Bay's already-shrunken wetlands. Rising seas will move the shore directly into current zones of urban development, leaving no space for critical marsh habitat and dooming wetland species to extinction. Reduced flows of streams and rivers entering the Bay will prove fatal for migratory fish such as Chinook salmon and cutthroat trout. The survival of many other species will become more and more precarious as they endure increasingly severe storms, floods, fires, and droughts.


Climate Change as a Moral Issue 

In the spring of 2015 Pope Francis released his encyclical "Laudato Si" which was a call for all people of the world to take "swift and unified global action to combat the threat of global warming."  The climate crisis is the most urgent moral issue of this century. Fifteen thousand faith organizations in California and across America have acknowledged the moral imperative to leave future generations an Earth capable of providing the resources they need to survive and thrive, and a global economy that is based on clean, safe, renewable energy. We must engage wholeheartedly in this effort, or condemn future generations to a perilous future in which sources of clean water, adequate food, and economic prosperity are all at serious risk. Rev. Kurt A. Kuhwald, Unitarian Universalist minister and professor at Starr King Seminary in Berkeley, writes, ‘The time of denial and retreat is at an end. The time for a radical commitment to life and this planet is at hand. Every one of us is needed.’  Those of us who hold the Earth dear as the source of all life, those of us who cherish children—all of us, working together—have a moral imperative to preserve a healthy planet and future for all generations."  —Frances Aubrey, 350 Bay Area

Climate Change as a Health Issue

Citing serious adverse health concerns, National Nurses United announced (1-5-13) that it is joining with environmentalists, unions and other organizations from across the country to oppose continued mining and transport of tar sands.  With 185,000 members, NNU is the largest organization and union of registered nurses.  “The emissions from tar sands will exacerbate climate change which affects public health much more broadly even than the widespread direct impacts of the tar sands industry.  Nurses care for patients every day who struggle with health crises aggravated by environmental pollution in its many forms," said NNU Co-President Deborah Burger, RN.  "As a society we need to reduce the effects of environmental factors, including climate change, that are making people sick, and endangering the future for our children."

A current focus of the American Lung Association in California's fight against climate change is in protecting California's clean air leadership that has resulted in key life-saving pollution reduction programs in California is experiencing an air pollution crisis that places a severe burden on the health of its residents. Each year, public exposure to unhealthy air contributes to thousands of asthma attacks, emergency room visits, hospitalizations and premature deaths in California. Unfortunately, global warming will make it much harder for California to protect its citizens from unhealthy air."

California is home to some of the nation’s worst air pollution, with more than 90% of the population breathing unhealthy air. Public health in California, particularly among vulnerable populations already most impacted by air pollution - children, the elderly, low income communities, communities of color, and those with heart and lung disease - will bear greater impacts as global warming raises temperatures and further threatens our air quality. According to the California Air Resources Board, current unhealthy levels of ozone (smog) and particulate matter annually contribute to:

9,200 premature deaths

9,400 hospital admissions for respiratory and cardiovascular disease

280,000 asthma and other lower respiratory symptoms

22,000 cases of acute bronchitis

Millions of school and work days lost due to respiratory conditions"

~ American Lung Association, "Global Warming Threatens California Air Quality & Public Health"


Climate Change as an Issue for First Nations People

The mining of the Alberta tar sands has had disastrous results for First Nations people. This mining has caused high rates of cancers in the people and the animals that they subsist on, and which are an important part of their culture.

Many of the mining of "resources" such as the tar sands, uranium, gold, etc., takes place on treaty lands and unceded First Nations territories. The mining of these resources have caused profound damages, not only for Indigenous people, but for all of humanity.

The Idle No More movement, started by four women, both First Nations and European ancestry, has spread around the world. People are resonating to the concept that we must put an end to governmental approval of corporate destruction of our water, air and Mother Earth.  We must all rise up together to ensure an environment that can sustain humanity.

Native Americans have traditionally made important decisions with consideration for the next seven generations to come. This type of consideration ensures a sustainable future for descendants. If this type of thinking had been part of institutions of the United States, both private and governmental, there would be no climate change issue.

—Pennie Opal Plant, Yaqui, Choctaw, Cherokee