Central Valley community group refuses to participate in Low Carbon Fuel Standard workshop ignoring their concerns

Factory farm gas is not the climate future we need. It locks California into a dangerous status quo that will continue to undermine our climate goals and incentivize unsustainable, polluting megadairies in the San Joaquin Valley.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 10, 2024

MEDIA CONTACT
Jill Hindenach, jhindenach@leadershipcounsel.org, 202-494-6309

MERCED, CA — Over the past two years, community residents from the San Joaquin Valley have tried to play an active role in ensuring our concerns regarding the proliferation of factory farm gas and its harmful effects on our health are addressed by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) rulemaking update. At every turn, CARB staff has ignored our concerns and blatantly tried to erase communities’ lived experiences and the impacts from the expansion of factory farm gas infrastructure, such as digesters and pipelines, near our communities.

Rather than meaningfully engage with the people who live in the region where 90% of the states dairy cows reside, a region that boasts the worst air quality in the nation for particulate matter, where childhood asthma rates rank among the highest in the nation, and where nitrates taint drinking water sources, staff has shown time and again throughout this rulemaking process up to and including the agenda for today’s workshop, that it deems our concerns unworthy of consideration, investigation, and remediation. 

Therefore, the San Joaquin Valley community group, Central Valley Defenders of Clean Air and Water, will not be participating in today’s workshop on the LCFS. Defenders remain committed to fighting to fix this broken program, they are only uninterested in participating in a venue that does not value their participation. 

The community group has met with board members and staff several times and traveled hours to give two-minute comments at workshops and meetings. CARB board members and the Environmental Justice Advisory Committee have directed staff leaders to further explore the public health concerns of communities related to the proliferation of a factory farm gas — a combustible fuel, that does not alleviate water or local air concerns, regardless of how much industry says it does, and does not produce affordable, clean transportation investments for the communities they poison. In fact, in encouraging the production of methane it does quite the opposite, exacerbating air and water pollution in the San Joaquin Valley.

Similar to how California permitted oil wells, landfills, and biomass facilities in low-income communities of color for decades, factory farm gas production and infrastructure is the newest — and possibly most insidious — way of entrenching state climate policy in discrimination and subsidizing “clean energy” with the lives of the very communities this agency claims to protect. 

The LCFS workshop today is another example in a long line of CARB staff refusing to acknowledge or discuss our concerns or policy recommendations. Avoided methane crediting and regulation of livestock methane emissions are absent from the agenda, just as they were absent from staff’s proposed change to the LCFS released in December.

CARB staff’s proposed changes to the LCFS willfully ignores science, data, and public health impacts of the program on communities across California. Furthermore, it does nothing to address concerns raised by CARB members around incentives for polluting fuels nor their support of direct regulation of livestock methane in 2024. Our fight for clean air and water in our communities won’t end until agencies and elected officials who are meant to fight along with us listen to our experiences and take action to ensure policies and programs work for us instead of catering to polluting industries.

Factory farm gas is not the climate future we need. It locks California into a dangerous status quo that will continue to undermine our climate goals and incentivize unsustainable, polluting megadairies in the San Joaquin Valley. CARB staff has shown that it is not capable of supporting the long-term sustainability of Californians and ensuring that communities aren’t sacrificed in the process of meeting our climate goals. We urge the board to rein in staff who continue to support polluting projects at the expense of communities already experiencing severe environmental and public health impacts.

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Central Valley Defenders of Clean Air and Water is a coalition of community residents throughout the San Joaquin Valley living near and facing impacts from concentrated animal feeding operations. The Defenders promote and enforce policies and practices that decrease pollution, degradation of the environment, and other negative impacts from dairies on vulnerable communities and the region. 

Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability works alongside the most impacted communities in the San Joaquin Valley and Eastern Coachella Valley to advocate for sound policy and eradicate injustice to secure equal access to opportunity regardless of wealth, race, income, and place. Leadership Counsel focuses on issues like housing, land use, transportation, safe and affordable drinking water and climate change impacts on communities.


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