Thousands Protest Chevron Oil Refinery in Richmond, California

The Nation

Richmond, California is home to the Golden State’s single largest greenhouse-gas polluter, the Chevron oil refinery and some of the fiercest local environmental politics and activism anywhere in the country.

On Saturday, police arrested more than 200 people for trespassing at the refinery gates, as more than 2,500 demonstrators gathered there in a protest over climate change and air pollution, according to reports in the San Francisco Chronicle and Bay Area radio station KQED. Protesters marked the one-year anniversary of an August 6, 2012 explosion at the Chevron refinery that sent 15,000 people across the region to hospitals with respiratory problems. The refinery was also one of the key symbolic sites that Bill McKibben’s organization, 350.org, chose for its series of protests this summer—to draw attention to climate change, the fossil-fuel industry’s role in blocking environmental policy, and the plight of people living in the shadow of industrial pollution.

Richmond is one of the country’s best case studies on how oil mixes with politics. [Read more.]

Will California’s Cap and Trade Be Fair?

capandtradenation-tiffThe Nation

Supported by a grant from the Fund for Investigative Journalism.

Even when she was a kid, Melissa Cervantes knew something was wrong with the air in Wilmington, a neighborhood next to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach where she has lived most of her life. The streets here are verdant with mango, guava and avocado trees. But a brownish haze hangs above the houses. “I kind of figured the refinery was making people sick,” she says. “But when you’re just a little kid, you don’t put it together as a puzzle.” …

It’s no secret that the refineries often break the laws that limit pollution. The Tesoro refinery in Wilmington, for instance, violated air regulations twenty-eight times from 2008 to 2009. Melissa sometimes calls the companies’ public hotlines when she notices a bad smell or a plume of smoke, but they “give you the runaround,” she says. In the fall of 2010, her boyfriend’s mother, Maria Ramos, told her that Tesoro and Valero were backing a ballot measure that would suspend Assembly Bill 32, the state’s groundbreaking attempt to rein in greenhouse gas emissions. [Read more.]

When Words Fail: Does a Warming World Need a New Vocabulary?

YES! Magazine

We are at a loss for words, says Glenn Albrecht. There is nothing in English adequate to describe how overpowering it is to face climate change, or how we might feel about drought across Somalia or Texas, the leveling of mountains for coal mining, or our uncertainty about how flooded or stormy the future may be.

So Albrecht is inventing new words.

Albrecht is an Australian philosopher who has gained some fame for coining the word solastalgia, a term that describes the angst you might feel when the environment around you starts to change … [Read more.]

Asking for What Obama Promised

YES! Magazine

Over the past two days, I watched more than 200 people get arrested in protests that are attempting to push back against the oil industry’s influence on a key decision that President Obama is about to make. In total, there have been more than 700 arrests since the demonstrations began. In their signs and speeches, the protesters draw self-consciously on King’s legacy of civil disobedience, but many are not seasoned activists. Most of the people I met at the White House gates were core supporters of Obama in 2008. They put their weight and energy into Obama’s campaign, knocking on doors to deliver him a landslide. Three years later, they are angry and frustrated with the president. [Read more.]