California’s double-edged “climate leadership”: Behind the big talk, a cozy relationship with Big Oil

Jerry Brown joined with New York Gov.
Andrew Cuomo and Washington state Gov.
Jay Inslee to announce the formation of the United States Climate Alliance, pledging it would “help fill the void left by the federal government.” By the next day, seven more states had joined.
State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León sent Brown a letter, signed by all 27 of the body’s Democrats, calling for Brown to convene a climate summit to “partner with Mexico and Canada, and invite like-minded states and subnationals from around the world, to ensure that we continue to charge ahead without forfeiting all of our historic progress to date.” That was just the first day, a taste of much more to come, as underscored vividly by Brown’s subsequent trip to China, where he signed a number of significant climate agreements.
But the day after de León’s letter, June 2, revealed a strikingly different side of California climate policy and politics — a side that’s been there for much longer.
The project would combine two existing facilities owned by Tesoro to create the largest West Coast refinery, and significantly increase its processing of “dirty crude” — Canadian tar sands oil and Bakken crude oil — the most environmentally harmful forms of crude oil coming to market.
Environmental reviews “are required to be evaluated based on actual conditions, not solely on emissions factors,” which is the method currently used.
“They’re structured to give the benefit of the doubt to breathers, so that we’re not putting people in harm’s way.” The situation was so dire, that Tesoro was selected as the focal point for the Southern California People’s Climate March, which drew between 5,000 and 10,000 people.
Those “who live here near the Tesoro Refinery are on the front lines,” Fonda said, “in the neighborhood known as the ‘sacrifice zones.’ They and their families are the vulnerable victims of cancer-causing benzene and daily exposure to all the other toxins refineries spew into our air and water.
“They already rubber-stamped the decision, without evaluating the impact of that dirty crude,” Rivera told me afterwards.

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