How is AB32 making air quality worse in KernCounty? Here are four examples that Mary Nichols, head of the California Air Resources Board, should be embarrassed about:
- Hydrogen Energy is trying to build a “clean coal” power and fertilizer plant. reat claims are made of how this project will use low carbon energy, be eligible for carbon credits in some form, and of course, fit in perfectly with California’s goals to reduce carbon emissions. The pollution from the plant, as it burns the hydrogen, operates its cooling towers, and brings in the coal will add well over 500 tons of criteria air pollutants annually to KernCounty air. This project, once operating, will immediately become one of the top 5 stationary sources of local air pollution.
- Big polluting power plants in Kern County and elsewhere will be able to buy the carbon credits they need under CO2 caps by paying local factory dairies to install methane digesters over their manure lagoons. These dairies are responsible for a huge amount of air pollution in KernCounty in terms of ammonia and VOC emissions. The methane from these digesters will be burned for local energy producing criteria air pollutants at rates far higher than large natural gas power plants. This payment will also represent a subsidy which reinforces unsustainable dairy practices where nutrients such as ammonia are purposely put into the air instead of recycled in the soil and cows are fed fermented feed and corn that gives off the VOC’s. The whole result is actually a net increase in local air pollution.
- Three coal burning cogeneration plants in KernCounty (Mt Poso is one) are being forced to quit burning coal by state law. They are therefore converting to biomass. Two problems arise from this conversion. When they burn biomass there are higher criteria air pollutants released for the same amount of produced energy. There are also higher associated transportation emissions because the fuel is bulkier and most of it is coming from Los Angeles. They are converting to biomass because they can sell their electricity as renewable energy. The steam, which helps produce oil by injection, will also be considered renewable so there will be carbon credits for that part of the operation as well even though the net result is more fossil fuel going to market.
- KernCounty residents do not want sewage sludge coming from LA and contaminating local soil and groundwater on agricultural ground. Now, under the guise of renewable energy, the sewage is going to keep coming to be burned in a boiler for energy production (Liberty Energy). The pollution from the transportation of sewage sludge will continue and now there will also be pollution from a very inefficient power plant (because of the high moisture content of the sludge). But, they will sell the electricity as renewable, carbon-free, energy under California rules.
None of the above four examples should be happening. All of them would be stopped if the promised safeguards under AB32 had been implemented. Basically, the promise from Mary Nichols was that air quality would improve under AB32 and she would never allow what is being seen in KernCounty to happen anywhere.