Replace your Gas Appliances by 2035

By Angela Deegan

Fast forward to the year 2035 in San Diego. We’ve achieved our goal of a 100% clean power supply. All our electricity needs are supplied by carbon-free power. We’re proclaiming we’re a carbon-free city. But half the energy in our homes is still from burning natural gas?  

Half of California residential energy use is “natural gas” – a fossil fuel. If in 2035 we’re still using gas for space and water heating in our homes, we will have failed. We will have missed a huge opportunity to tackle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and worsening climate extremes – which we could easily have done by switching our gas appliances to electric. 

We must make the switch from fossil-fuels to electricity. It’s how we leverage the clean electricity goals that groups like SanDiego350 and many others have worked so hard to put in place. This concept of using 100% clean power for everything is referred to simply as “electrify everything”. It is key to slashing our greenhouse gas emissions and fighting against worsening climate extremes. “Everything” means everything that currently uses fossil fuels – like cars, buses, small engine lawnmowers, emergency generators, you name it! Inside the home, it means gas appliances. 

We’re in a climate emergency. Here in California, it’s all around us – more destructive wildfires, longer fire seasons, hotter heat waves, coastal flooding. Continuing to add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere will only make it even worse.  

Clean electricity is generated from renewable sources such as wind, solar and geothermal – not fossil fuels, like coal and gas. San Diego and many other California municipalities have committed to 100% clean electricity by 2035. 

We’re well on our way towards the 100% clean electricity goal. In 2019, California’s electricity supply was 63% carbon-free. Each year as we approach the 2035 deadline, our power supply must get cleaner. If we can reach 100% clean electricity much sooner than 2035, all the better. 

Let’s learn about how, by making smart decisions and planning ahead, you get the most out of this clean electricity in your homes.

The Opportunity

The easiest way to cut GHGs emissions from the home is to replace gas-burning appliances with electric ones.

In new homes, gas-burning appliances are the default. This commits the new homeowner to decades of natural gas use. It needs to change and is changing.  In fact, many cities in California and around the U.S. are introducing bans on gas connections in new homes

In existing homes, the challenge is to change to electric appliances powered by clean grids. This is where individual homeowners can make a real difference.

Gas appliances and pollution

Don’t be under any illusions about “natural gas”. No matter what fancy, expensive gas advertisements tell you, it is not “clean natural gas.” It is dirty. In California, most of it comes from fracking, which causes environmental destruction, polluting both water and air. Natural gas leaks frequently from storage facilities and from pipelines. It leaks as the highly potent, planet-warming GHG, methane.  When it’s burned, it emits carbon dioxide, a GHG that remains in our atmosphere for hundreds of years. 

There’s yet another reason to free your home of gas usage. Besides greenhouse gasses, natural gas combustion also causes other types of pollution in and around your home. The pollutants include carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), particulate matter, and formaldehyde. These are linked to various acute and chronic health effects, including respiratory illness, cardiovascular disease, and premature death. 

Gas appliances vent the pollutants to the outside of the home, with one exception – gas stoves/ovens. These release combustion pollutants directly inside the living areas of the home This is a major reason why the air inside the average home is dirtier than the outside air.

From Effects of Residential Gas Appliances on Indoor and Outdoor Air Quality and Public Health in California, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, April 2020

Appliance Replacement

So how do we go about replacing our gas appliances with efficient electric ones? There are two approaches:

  1. All at once – perhaps as part of a home remodel
  2. As gas appliances need replacing

Most of us will make the switch when our gas appliances need replacing . But it means we have to “go against the grain.” When replacing old appliances homeowners usually replace “like for like.” When shopping for a replacement HVAC system, sales technicians often won’t even offer an electric option unless you specifically request it.  They’ll *more* likely suggest a more efficient gas appliance than the one you’re replacing.

But the goal is not to use gas more efficiently, it’s to eliminate gas. You don’t do that by installing a new high efficiency gas furnace or water heater. You do it by switching to an electric appliance. 

By installing any new gas appliance, you lock into decades more of carbon emissions, so insist on electric!

Best electric options

Each gas appliance we replace with an electric one means that much more clean electric power needs to be produced. And that’s a good thing. But it will be difficult. To reduce the power needed, minimize the resources required to generate it (e.g. heavy metals for solar PV panels) and make it easier to meet our GHG reduction goals, we must ensure that our homes are well-insulated and the electric appliances we install are efficient.

Heating/drying – Heat Pumps

For those homes with gas furnaces and water heaters, these two appliances account for over 85% of the home’s gas use. The modern electric replacements for these use heat-pump technology. 

Heat-pumps work by transferring heat rather than burning fossil fuels to create heat. This makes them more efficient. In fact, a heat pump generates two to four times as much heat from the same amount of electricity as the older-style electric resistance heaters. 

A heat-pump water heater in the author’s garage

A heat-pump HVAC system is an all-in-one system that works as an air conditioner in the summer, and works in reverse to heat the home in the winter. To heat the home, it transfers heat from outside to inside while to cool, it transfers heat from inside your home to outside. 

Heat-pump water heaters and dryers work on the same principle. 

Heat-pumps for space heating and cooling come in two basic forms. Split systems are similar to the standard ducted systems, where the air is delivered through ducts into the different rooms. Then there are ‘minisplits’ which are also becoming popular. These still have the outside unit, but allow homeowners to use several cartridges inside the house. They don’t use ducts. Instead, the cartridges are placed right in the room, so they blow hot or cool air depending on the need, to condition the room. Some people like these because it allows them to heat or cool one room or area at a time.

SanDiego350 volunteer, Wendy Mihalic remotely controls a mini-split HVAC system cartridge in her home. Photo by George Jiracek

To appreciate the value of heat pumps, consider the energy savings. The standard electric storage water heater is estimated to use 3,500 kWh per year. By contrast, a similar heat-pump water heater is estimated to use much less power – 1,000 kWh per year.

Since heat-pumps use outside air to heat, whether we’re talking about heat-pump water heaters, or space heaters, they work most efficiently in warmer climates so they are perfect for California.

Heat-pump dryers come with some added bonuses over gas dryers:

  • They don’t require ventilation so are easier to install
  • They dry laundry at low temperatures, so they are gentler on clothes

Cooking – Electric ovens with Induction Stove tops

Even stove technology has changed. Unlike the standard electric burner, gas burners are more responsive to temperature control. But now we have an electric option that surpasses that – induction stove tops.

With induction, the pan is heated directly – rather than the burner first and then the pan. This greatly reduces the risk of burns. It also makes for a faster, more efficient way of cooking than even with gas. And it means your kitchen stays cooler while cooking. Induction compared to gas: more control, better response time, and a healthier, cleaner kitchen

Be aware that, since induction is based on electromagnetism, your pots and pans must be magnetic. If a magnet sticks to it, it’s induction-ready. Bear this in mind next time you’re buying pots and pans.

SD350 volunteer, David Harris, cooking up something delicious on his portable induction stove. Photo by Elaine Dorsey

Weatherize your home

It’s important to review your home’s energy efficiency before purchasing new home heating/cooling systems. If your home is well-sealed and insulated, it will take little energy to heat and cool it.

Is your home leaky? Does it have adequate insulation? Do your HVAC ducts leak, and are they properly insulated? Addressing such issues reduces the amount of heat needed to heat the house. A well air sealed home also leads to better inside air quality.

To cut water heating costs, hot water pipes should be insulated. Insulated pipes result in less loss of heat as water passes through them. This allows the water heater to be set at a lower temperature, saving energy.

Take advantage of ‘Time of Use’ Pricing

California utilities generally charge customers using ‘Time of Use’ (TOU) pricing. Under these pricing plans, electricity is cheaper outside of the late afternoon and evening period – generally the hours of 4pm to 9pm. 

Most modern heat pump systems can be programmed, enabling you to leverage TOU pricing for cost savings. Just program the devices to do the bulk of their work (heating or cooling) during the hours preceding high price periods, then program to turn down during peak pricing hours.

Heat-pump water heaters can also be programmed to take advantage of TOU pricing – i.e. to heat water when electricity is abundant and cheap. This is like having a battery for your water heating – in that you can store the energy. It also constitutes a big advantage over ‘on-demand’ water heaters. Because those systems don’t have a storage tank, when you need to use hot water is when you must heat the water.

 Screenshot of App showing water heating schedule for  the pictured water heater

Wiring considerations – plan now

The electric versions of the four common household gas appliances – HVAC, water heater, stove, dryer – typically require 240 volt power sources. If you make the switch, you’ll be using less energy overall, but more electricity. So ensure your circuit-breaker box has adequate capacity and that you have 240 volt outlets where you’ll need them. Ideally upgrade the circuit-breaker box all at once – to save money. And if your pocket-book allows, this would be the perfect time for you to install solar PV panels too! 

Don’t be caught unprepared when you need to replace your gas appliance. If the wiring is in place, it may take a couple of hours to replace a gas furnace with an electric furnace. If it isn’t, too often, it can take several days to get someone to install the wiring. Many families won’t go without hot water for a few days, so they end up replacing gas with gas – committing to another decade plus of gas use.

Ending the Natural Gas Age

It has been said “The Stone Age didn’t end for lack of stone, and the oil age will end long before the world runs out of oil.”

So too must the age of natural gas come to an end. Our ever-cleaner power supply provides us with the means to this end. We must take full advantage of it to squeeze out as much GHG usage as we possibly can. Only when we switch to it for our appliances and our transportation will we make the deep GHG cuts that are necessary. 

There are many difficult tasks ahead in eliminating GHG’s. Replacing our gas appliances isn’t one of them. That’s the easy part. The “no brainer”, “low hanging fruit” part. We’ll still be using the same basic equipment. Your hot water will still reach the shower at the same temperature, your HVAC will still send heat through those same ducts to heat your home in winter. The difference is you’ll now be using modern technology to produce clean heat, rather than burning fossil fuels, and helping our planet in the process.

Toyota Tainted

Last fall, Toyota took an action that puts them squarely on the side of polluters in the battle for cleaner air. Back in October, Environmental Defence Fund (EDF) and others filed a lawsuit defending California’s vehicle emissions standards against an attack by the Trump administration – a case where Toyota might be expected to stand firmly on the side of defending California’s standards. Instead, Toyota sold us out, joining the defendant in attacking our state’s standards.

Toyota talks a pretty good talk when it comes to the environment. Just check out their goals in Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050, the first of which is “Reduce CO2 emissions from new vehicles by 90 percent from 2010 levels.” And you could say they’ve walked the talk too, with the iconic Prius – the first mass-produced hybrid-electric car, which pioneered mass electrification of passenger cars. 

But at the end of the day, the company has traded clean-air for favor with the Trump administration.

Why focus on Toyota?

Other carmakers besides Toyota took the defendant’s side in EDF’s lawsuit. So why single out Toyota? Because they, in particular, are demonstrating hypocrisy, given their facade of sustainability. And with 14.58% of the U.S. market in the first quarter of this year, they trail only GM and Ford. In addition, Toyota actually had a hand in crafting the California emissions standards!

We must fight Toyota’s stance, tooth and nail. There’s so much at stake – clean air in our lungs, a livable planet.

Assaulting California’s auto emissions standards

The Trump administration attack had come in September 2019, in the form of a rule “blocking California – or any other state – from setting its own standards for fuel economy or greenhouse gas pollution from vehicles”. It was well known that the administration was hell-bent from day one on favoring oil industry profits over clean air. (Just check out this timeline.) In anticipation of an attack, in July 2019, four major automakers reached an agreement with California to voluntarily adhere to its stricter emissions standards, regardless of what steps the federal government took. You’d think Toyota would have been among them, but you’d be wrong. The four companies that chose to protect our planet and our health were Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW.

Origin of California’s special status

California has had the right to set its own, stricter emissions standards for motor vehicles than the federal government’s, dating back to the 1967 Air Quality Act. That’s because California already had emissions standards in place by that time to address dire pollution in Los Angeles. The 1970 Clean Air Act honored that by allowing California to continue to write its own rules – subject to applying for and being granted a waiver by the EPA.

California is treated uniquely in this, due to its particularly severe motor vehicle-related air quality issues. However, under Section 177 of the Clean Air Act, any state can choose to follow California’s standards. Significantly, 13 states and the District of Columbia do so choose. Known as the “Section 177″ states, they are primarily in the northeast of the country. 

Importance of California’s special status

As goes California, so goes the rest of the country. That’s because it’s uneconomical for automakers to manufacture cars to two different emissions specifications – one for the 14 states using the California standard and another for the rest of the U.S. using the EPA standard. This makes California’s special status extremely significant in terms of controlling climate pollution and protecting the air that we breathe.

California’s standards have directly resulted in the development of major technological advances to clean vehicle emissions. As a result, in terms of smog-forming pollution, the average new car sold in California – and nationwide – is more than 99 percent cleaner than a car from the 1970s.

 “It’s hard to overstate how important the ability for California to set its standards has been to public health and clean air over the past 40 years,” says Don Anair, deputy director for the clean vehicles program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. And in a 2017 article, Wired Magazine’s Alex Davies called the California exemption “one of the most powerful environmental tools in the world.”

Assaulting Federal auto emissions standards

On March 31st, the Trump administration launched a second major assault on auto-emissions standards. In one of the biggest steps the administration has taken to reverse an existing environmental policy, it rolled back federal fuel economy standards established in 2012, under which new vehicle fleets would reach an average of 54 miles per gallon by 2025. Instead, that federal goal is now lowered to about 40 miles per gallon. 

This latest attack makes it even more important that we retain our state’s ambitious goals! Let’s leverage COVID-19 downtime to take action.

Hit them where it hurts

The best way to apply pressure is by affecting sales. Dealerships act as critical ‘middlemen’ for the auto industry. In late February, SD350 joined forces with Activist San Diego at a protest at a local Toyota dealership – the Larry H. Miller Toyota dealership in Lemon Grove. This was part of Activist San Diego’s Toyota Loves Trump campaign – a campaign to pressure Toyota to drop its support of the administration in the EDF lawsuit. But with most of us currently sequestered at home during the COVID-19 lockdown, we must take action now through calls, emails, letters, etc. 

What you can do

Please tell Toyota that their behavior is unacceptable by contacting them in any of the following ways: 

  1. Call one or more of the 11 San Diego Toyota dealerships.
  2. Submit a comment to Toyota corporate at Email Toyota (Choose Advertising/Marketing as the Topic on the left side.)
  3. Write to Toyota headquarters:
    Mr. Tetsuo Ogawa, CEO
    Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.
    P.O. Box 259001
    Plano, TX 75025-9001

Here’s a sample of what you can say:

I’m a resident of XXX, California and am writing/calling to express my outrage at Toyota’s support of the Trump administration in striking down California’s right to have stricter auto-emissions standards than the EPA’s. 

I will not consider buying a Toyota [again] until Toyota Corporation does the following, and I will encourage my family and friends to do likewise:

  1. Drop support of the Trump administration in the lawsuit brought by EDF et al in October 2019.
  2. Publicly support California’s right to have stronger auto emissions standards than the EPA’s.

Our individual actions can add up to make a big difference in protecting our state’s auto emissions standards. Thanks in advance for your action on this issue!

SanDiego350 Educates Southwest High School Students on Urgency of Climate Action

Originally published by the San Diego Free Press on April 30th 2018
By Susan Huntington Bishop

Left to Right: Bev Harju, Michelle Roberts, Ron Schneider, Susan Bishop
Photo courtesy of a student of Michelle Roberts

SanDiego350’s Presentation Team has been busy spreading the word about climate change throughout communities in the San Diego area. Team volunteers Beverly Harju, Ron Schneider, and Nancy Cottingham spent April 11th with students in Michelle Roberts’ Biology classes at Southwest High School. Michelle is a SanDiego350 member and is dedicated to teaching the next generation about the serious issues facing our planet and the concrete steps they can take toward building solutions.
[Read more…]

La Mesa City Council Adopts Strong Climate Action Plan -Volunteers learn what grassroots organizing can accomplish

On March 13th, the City Council of La Mesa unanimously adopted a strong Climate Action Plan (CAP), with a goal of 100% clean energy. This victory came after three years of persistent advocacy and organizing efforts by SanDiego350 La Mesa volunteers and our allies.

The SanDiego350 La Mesa CAP campaign began with our attendance at a meeting of the Environmental Sustainability Commission in early 2015. This was where the first draft of the Plan was released. Along with Climate Action Campaign, we identified numerous deficiencies in the Plan – it lacked a goal of 100% clean energy and didn’t identify Community Choice Energy (CCE) as a strategy. In addition, the time frame of 2020 was too short, too many measures were identified as voluntary, and, for the most part, the plan was not enforceable. [Read more…]

President’s La Jolla visit – SD350 rallies against the Keystone pipeline

SanDiego350 in La Jolla, ready for the Presidential Motorcade

SanDiego350 in La Jolla, ready for the Presidential Motorcade

Rally along Torrey Pines Road with 50’ Keystone Pipeline Banner, signs, chants 

By Jeff Meyer

Thursday, May 8, 2014 – Over 100 San Diegans gathered along Torrey Pines Road in La Jolla to call on President Obama, who was in the neighborhood for a fundraiser, to reject a permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline. The “KXL”, which would carry dirty tar sands oil from Canada to Texas for refining and export, has been called “game over” for the climate by the nation’s foremost climatologist, Dr. James Hansen.

Participants held large signs, including a 50-foot cardboard depiction of the Keystone Pipeline with the words “Stop the Keystone Pipeline. Fight climate change” in huge letters on it, and a large banner with a quote from the President that participants want to see him keep: “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations”.

SanDiego350’s Emily Wier said that the KXL will greatly increase greenhouse gas emissions and worsen the impacts of climate change – including significant sea level rise, more extreme and frequent storms and wildfires, water shortages, and increases in heat and infectious disease-related health problems – while creating only a few dozen on-going jobs. “Fully exploiting the tar sands will make the most serious effects of global warming inevitable. We need the President to reject the Keystone XL Pipeline, say he’ll veto a pro-pipeline bill in the Senate, and start demonstrating national and global leadership on climate change.”

Phil Petrie, a local artist in North Park, said that the country’s lack of response to devastating climate change is a moral issue. “We have a responsibility to the planet and to future generations to hold our government accountable to take immediate action on climate change. We are here now to make it known to President Obama that we, the people, say: The time is now! Reject this pipeline!”

Eleven-year old Siena also spoke movingly, saying, “Let me tell you what we kids really need.  We don’t need oil. We need clean air to breathe, fresh water to drink, and clean oceans to swim in.”

SanDiego350’s Michael Brackney led the demonstrators in rousing chants, including, “Climate change is here to stay, fossil fuels are not the way,” and “Tell Obama now’s the time, to stop the Keystone Pipeline!”

Bob Braaton said “When this fight started all bets were on the fossil fuel industry – everyone thought the pipeline would go through – but now it’s looking more likely that the pipeline could be rejected. That’s because of us in San Diego, and people just like us all around the country, who have stood up to say ‘enough!’”

Peg Mitchell of San Marcos said “I’m here today for my six grandchildren. If I didn’t act to stop this horrifying threat to their future, I couldn’t live with myself.”

Letter on Keystone XL – an Engineer’s Perspective

March 6, 2014

Dear President Obama and the State Department,
President Obama Speaks At Southern Site Of The Keystone Oil Pipeline

As a Registered Civil Engineer, I oppose the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline because I know it will leak and there will be oil spills. Nothing is ever engineered to 100% because it’s just not affordable. Additionally, factors such as human error (in design, construction or operation), material flaws/failure, and unpredictable accidents make the probability of pipeline spills high.

Case in point: Enbridge, a Canadian company, had a pipeline rupture in 2010 which poured a million gallons of tar sands oil into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan. It was eighteen hours before it was even discovered! It was the largest and one of the costliest on-land oil spills in U.S. history. The six-foot gash in the pipe was caused by corrosion fatigue.

Case in point: In April 2013, a twenty-two foot crack in an Exxon pipeline caused a devastating tar sands oil spill that began in a residential neighborhood of Mayflower, Arkansas and then flowed into Lake Conway, a drinking water source and popular fishing spot. The EPA classifying it as a major spill, with over 5,000 barrels of crude spilled.

Case in point: TransCanada’s first pipeline had more than a dozen spills in less than a year of operation. The more acidic and corrosive tar sands oil and the risk of external corrosion from higher pipeline temperatures make spills more likely.

Tar sands crude is one of the world’s dirtiest fuels. A pipeline accident could devastate ecosystems, pollute water sources and jeopardize public health. The Keystone XL pipeline would span more than 1,700 miles through farmland and fragile ecosystems, from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf Coast of Texas, where it will be refined and exported. The Keystone XL pipeline would cross six states, major rivers, and key sources of drinking and agricultural water, such as the Ogallala Aquifer which supplies water to more than one fourth of America’s irrigated land and provides drinking water for two million Americans.

During tar sands oil production, the carbon dioxide emission levels are three to four times higher than that of conventional oil. The pipeline would be responsible for 30 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year. The energy-intensive extraction and refining processes also result in higher emissions of toxic sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide which cause smog and acid rain.

In considering the Keystone XL pipeline proposal in 2013, the EPA recommended to the State Department that pipelines that carry bituminous sands oil should no longer be treated just like pipelines that carry any other oil.

Additionally, the pipeline will create higher carbon emissions, contribute dramatically to climate change, and threaten our country’s drinking water. This pipeline is not in our national interest.

As a Registered Civil Engineer, I am aware of previous pipeline ruptures and spills. I’m concerned about the integrity of the pipeline from corrosion, faulty welds, material defects, construction equipment and sabotage. I believe the Keystone XL pipeline should NOT be approved. Thank you.

Sincerely,

 Jösan Feathers, P.E.

__________________________________________________________

About the Author:  Jösan Feathers worked as a Civil Engineer for Caltrans and State Parks for 30 years before retiring almost 5 years ago. She and her husband enjoy attending SDSU Aztecs basketball games, traveling and dog-sharing their neighbor’s dog, Rupert, in La Mesa. She volunteers with SanDiego350.org.

Creative Commons License This text by Jösan Feathers is used here by permission of the author, and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Great comment to the State Department on Keystone XL

Vigil-goer calls on President to reject Keystone XL

Vigil-goer calls on President to reject Keystone XL

The damage caused to our atmosphere and our oceans by carbon dioxide that has been released by burning fossil fuels is abundantly clear. The consequences are increasing year by year – acidified oceans harming coral reefs and diatoms (the basis of the oceanic food chain); huge changes in atmospheric patterns that are producing storms and different rainfall and temperature regimes than have been in place for at least 500 years, altering agriculture, silviculture, and the survival of entire ecosystems that are responsible for our hydrological systems. Without reductions in our CO2 output, science has predicted to a high probability that the extreme changes may come to reflect conditions not witnessed in 100,000 years or longer, if we don’t alter our production of CO2.

Leaving fossil fuels in the ground is the best way to stop their use. They are also extraordinary resources, and burning them to power cars, trains, and trucks is absurd in an era when other ways to power these ground transportation devices are available. We will really regret the lack of fossil fuels for those situations for which they are uniquely appropriate if we burn them all up just to roll people from place to place.

Some say that Keystone XL helps the US achieve energy self-sufficiency. Energy self-sufficiency in the US isn’t gained by the US refineries buying Canadian crude from tar sands. This simply guarantees the Canadian companies will make a lot of money. It is good that the US is seeking to be self-sufficient in our energy requirements. However, our national priorities for energy self-sufficiency have been co-opted by the current energy corporate hegemony, to encourage the continued reliance on fossil fuels.

If we prohibit the use of Keystone XL pipelines for transporting tar sand oil, this will slow down its production. British Columbians are barring pipelines to the Pacific Ocean. People in the NE US are coming together to prohibit transport across their states to the Atlantic Ocean. The rest of us need to prohibit transport across the middle of the US to the Gulf of Mexico via Keystone XL.

If we also follow up with mandatory reductions on shipping by rail or truck this would further constrain the Canadian excavation and shipment of tar sands oil.

If, as claimed by a number of critics of Keystone XL pipeline, the refined products are going to be sold to overseas markets, this makes a travesty of the idea that Keystone XL is helping the US be energy self-sufficient. It simply means that the refineries will make money regardless of the long-term needs for fossil fuels in the US for appropriate purposes.

If fossil fuels could be used without releasing CO2 that would be great. Where is the research for that? In the meantime, the only way to reduce CO2 releases is by conservation and by replacing fossil fuels used for generating electricity with solar, wind, tide, heat-pumps, and other already proven technologies that are improving efficiency every year. These, and other as-yet-unknown technologies that might become useful if they are proven to be benign in their impact to the environment (unlike nuclear power which is a very dangerous form of energy production) are the means to energy self-sufficiency and global climate protection. Ground transportation can also be converted to greatly more efficient use of fossil fuels – hybrid vehicles work great!

Our priorities must be switched to solar and wind generated electricity, conservation measures for fuel for heating and transportation, and anything else that we can do to reduce use of fossil fuels. The stakes are immense.

Thanks for considering my point of view and facts in your decisionmaking.

I beg of you, DO NOT AUTHORIZE THE KEYSTONE XL PIPELINE

Kay Stewart

__________________________________________________________

About the commenter: Kay Stewart is a volunteer with SD350.org and landscape architect with a special feel for melding plants and construction to create serene or playful outdoor places for her clients. She lives with her husband and her tabby cat.

Submit your own comment at the State Dept Website: http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=DOS-2014-0003-0001 by March 7, 2014. You can also submit comments via 350.org.
Creative Commons License This text by Kay Stewart is used here by permission of the author, and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Open letter to the California Federation of Teachers

California Teachers for Fossil Fuel Divestment and SanDiego350.org sincerely thank the California Federation of Teachers for backing a resolution calling for CalSTRS and CalPERS to divest from fossil fuels. Your bold step in asking the two largest pension fund investors in the United States to remove the collective wealth of the education workers you represent, workers that spend their professional lives preparing others for the future, from being used in the fossil fuels industry, is the kind of tectonic shift this world needs.

Climate change must be addressed now and that means radically reducing our dependency on fossil fuels. Every fossil fuel tentacle, every branch that can be cut moves us forward in stopping our dependency on fossil fuels. The tentacle you have asked to be cut is a tentacle that relies on the income produced from investing in fossil fuels. There is no denying that the fossil fuel industries provide the best return, the best bang for the buck, and we have a significant amount of our collective wealth in our CalSTRS and CalPERS pensions invested in fossil fuels. However, we must look beyond today, this quarter, this year; we must think about the coming decade or two.

The science of climate change is very clear; we have at most a decade to begin taking bold action to avoid the worst that climate change could bring. So we are faced with a choice: begin significantly cutting our fossil fuels dependency now and maybe face an economic issue manifested to us in CalSTRS and CalPERS by a drop in investment revenue brought in by fossil fuels, or don’t cut our fossil fuel dependency and face broad environmental and social catastrophes unheard of by humankind.

If in this critical decade, we the people demand real action on climate change and that demand is followed by real action to greatly reduce our carbon dioxide emissions, the value of fossil fuel stocks will drop and those holding them will take the hit. Action on cutting carbon dioxide emissions doesn’t mean that we don’t provide alternatives in energy, and investing in these alternatives on a scale to meet the demand of replacing fossil fuels presents great opportunities for pension funds like ours.

If action isn’t taken on carbon dioxide emissions, the continued holding of fossil fuel stocks may not matter much in the decades ahead. As our youngest teachers begin to retire, what effect will our current choice of investments have on their future? Global insurance firms, military planners, government agencies dealing with water for agriculture and inland water transport, and many coastal communities and nations all see climate change as the most significant threat to the future for maintaining stable societies everywhere. How will a portfolio heavily invested in fossil fuels look thirty years from now if the threat of climate change is real? What future will there be for our students?

Divesting from fossil fuels is not just a sound proactive step to protect our collective wealth; it is an action that speaks to others that now is the time for action, for after now there will be no time left to make a difference. We ask you to go to our website, www.teachersfordivestment.com, and sign our petition. It’s going to take all of us working together to bring about the change that is needed. It will take the kind of leadership the CFT showed in choosing to support the resolution for fossil fuel divestment. CFT has boldly stepped forward and reinforced that California educators are about preparing others for their future, and that their students will not be facing a radically different planet due to climate change. We at California Teachers for Fossil Fuel Divestment and SanDiego350.org applaud your actions.

Thank you,

Gary Waayers

Member of: AFT Guild 1931; Palomar Faculty Federation;
California Teachers for Fossil Fuel Divestment;
SanDiego350.org