Climate change, pollution, and the ever-increasing economic costs—these are the price we pay for our society’s reliance on fossil fuels. CBE is on the front lines in the fight to transition away from fossil fuels toward safer, renewable energy.
It’s getting costlier, both financially and environmentally, to obtain fossil fuels. Energy corporations now search for petroleum and coal with ever-more-risky and expensive methods and in hard-to-reach places.
The BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010 was a result of an explosion in the deepest oil and gas well ever attempted–35,055 feet deep operating at nearly a mile (4,130 ft.) under water.
The high-profile fight over the Keystone XL Pipeline is also about the higher environmental cost of oil. The “tar sands” oil from Alberta, Canada is extracted from sand layers and is difficult to obtain–the process has terrible local environmental consequences, including the poisoning local air and water and ruining land.
Leakage of the highly corrosive petroleum product could poison environmentally sensitive and native sacred lands. The Canadian-US pipeline was stopped after massive protests—but plans continue for the southern leg of the pipeline to move tar sands oil from Oklahoma to the Gulf Coast. When the dirty crude is processed at local refineries, it increases the levels of toxic emissions in our communities.
The current consumption of fossil fuels is a way to global catastrophe. But CBE, as an environmental justice organization in California, has a leading role in a state that is creating a map away from fossil fuels and toward local renewable energy sources.
CBE and its allies support a renewable energy strategy that calls for efficient and affordable power development and distribution that is equitable and locally-controlled, not held by energy monopolies. Local renewable energy can become a reality—and CBE is advancing climate justice by leading the effort in California for local renewable energy. In 2011, California Governor Jerry Brown initiated a program to design 12,000 megawatts of Distributed Generation—a term for a system that generates electricity from small, local energy sources instead of large centralized energy plants that power most municipalities. These small projects can be built in our poor urban and rural areas, without costly and often destructive transmission lines.
CBE and the California Environmental Justice Alliance were central to the creation of the Solar for All (AB 1990) that would have created a pilot project to create 375 megawatts of local renewable energy—enough to power about 70,000 homes. The legislation would have also included local hiring programs in environmental justice communities, creating clean energy AND good jobs—a model of climate justice.