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SAN FRANCISCO – California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced that ConocoPhillips has agreed to an “unprecedented global warming reduction plan” to off-set greenhouse gases caused by the expansion of its Northern California oil refinery.
Brown said that the oil company has agreed to offset greenhouse gas emission increases until the carbon-cutting regulations of AB 32 take effect in 2012.
“This agreement is a groundbreaking step in California’s battle to combat global warming and gives the state an early edge in meeting the greenhouse gas reduction goals of AB 32,” Brown told a news conference with ConocoPhillips at the Attorney General’s Office in San Francisco.
ConocoPhillips has proposed an oil refinery expansion at its Rodeo facility in Contra Costa County, including a hydrogen plant to make cleaner-burning gasoline and diesel fuels from the heavy portion of crude oil. Brown appealed to the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, challenging the environmental documentation for the project and the failure to mitigate the increased greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the operation of the hydrogen plant.
The Attorney General said he would now withdraw the state’s appeal based on the significant greenhouse gas emission offsets agreed to by ConocoPhillips.
Brown added, “Under this unprecedented global warming reduction plan, ConocoPhillips becomes the first oil company in America to off-set greenhouse gas emissions from a refinery expansion project. This is a breakthrough.”
The hydrogen project will initially emit approximately 500,000 metric tons of CO2 per year. ConocoPhillips will take the following actions as part of its efforts to offset these emissions:
• Auditing all its California refineries and identifying all greenhouse gas emission sources and reduction opportunities.
• Conducting an energy efficiency audit at Rodeo to identify feasible energy efficiency measures.
• Funding a $7 million offset program that the Bay Area Air Quality Management District will use to support offset projects in the Bay Area.
• Funding $2.8 million for reforestation efforts in California, with an estimated sequestration of 1.5 million metric tons of greenhouse gases over the life of the reforestation projects.
• Funding $200,000 for restoration of the San Pablo wetlands.
• Surrendering the operating permit for the calciner at the Santa Maria facility, which ConocoPhillips estimates emitted 70,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases annually.
• If ConocoPhillips reduces its greenhouse gas emissions at the Rodeo facility, it will get credit towards its contribution to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District offset fund.
ConocoPhillips also agrees to offset any CO2 emissions in excess of 500,000 metric tons per year from the hydrogen unit if it increases its use of hydrogen. The company may apply to receive offsets credits for reductions achieved through the projects and activities funded through this agreement, under AB 32, or any equivalent state or federal law or regulation.
In 2005, ConocoPhillips proposed a project, known as the Clean Fuels Expansion Project, designed to make cleaner-burning gasoline and diesel fuels from the heavy gas oil already produced at the refinery. The expansion included a hydrogen plant to produce steam and electricity for these refinery processes. ConocoPhillips estimated that the project would increase the supply of cleaner burning fuels by approximately one million gallons per day in California.
Under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), Contra Costa County prepared an Environmental Impact Report on the project and accepted public comments. After the concluding that the report adequately addressed greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, the County Planning Commission certified the report. Attorney General Brown appealed to the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors in May 2007 on grounds that the impact report did not adequately address the greenhouse gas emissions and the associated climate change impacts of the project.
Scientists throughout the world overwhelming agree that global warming is real, is here now, and will get worse. At current emissions levels, temperatures in California will increase by 4 to 10 degrees during this century. In 2006 Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed AB 32, landmark global warming legislation that commits the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020—a 25% reduction. But AB 32 regulations do not take effect until 2012 and there are no current limits on greenhouse gas emissions.
Today’s agreement with ConocoPhillips comes on the heels of a landmark agreement with San Bernardino County to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the county level. These actions join a growing movement at the local level to combat climate change. As of June 2007, over 540 mayors from 50 states have signed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, a pledge to reduce global warming pollution in cities 7% below 1990 levels by the year 2012.
In California, the League of California Cities and the California State Association of Counties have partnered with the Institute for Local Government to launch a California Climate Action Network. The network proposes a variety of actions—from conserving energy to using lower carbon fuels—that can be taken by local jurisdictions to cut greenhouse gas emissions. For more information visit: http://www.ca-ilg.org/climatechange/
The attorney general’s global warming agreement with ConocoPhillips is attached.