Environmentalists Seize on Wildfires to Push Fossil Fuel Ban


Environmentalists are using the wildfires raging across northern California to push the governor and state lawmakers to ban oil and natural gas drilling, fight Trump administration regulatory rollbacks and mandate the use of more green energy.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the most prominent activist groups, tweeted Thursday the record-breaking Carr Fire should convince California “to double down on our convictions on climate” and “fight” the Trump administration rolling back greenhouse gas rules for cars.

California already plans to sue the Trump administration over its proposal to roll back Obama-era regulations limiting carbon dioxide emissions from new cars. The rollback included rescinding a waiver that allowed California to set its own stricter standards.

NRDC using the fires to inflame resistance to the Trump administration was picked up by other environmentalists who see auto emissions standards as key to fighting man-made global warming.

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However, the federal government’s analysis of Obama-era auto regulation’s impact on the climate found it was “too small to measure in practice.”

Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune used the wildfires as a chance to push California Gov. Jerry Brown to stop issuing oil and natural gas drilling permits in the state.

“But the math is merciless: If we don’t accelerate a phaseout of fossil fuels today, then the wildfires, droughts, and extreme weather events currently plaguing the planet will seem mild compared with what’s coming,” Brune wrote in an op-ed published Tuesday.

Brune appeared two days later on the liberal channel Democracy Now to implore Brown, a Democrat, to stop issuing oil and gas permits and flak for legislation to mandate the state get 100 percent of its electricity from green sources, like wind and solar.

Do you think environmentalists should be turning the wildfire crisis into something political?

“San Diego has committed to go to 100 percent clean energy. San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, large parts of the state at the city level have committed to move to 100 percent clean energy,” Brune said. “We’re looking to see the whole state get off of all coal, all gas, all fossil fuels and move to 100 percent clean energy as quickly as possible over the coming years.”

Environmentalists Bill McKibben, who made his name protesting the Keystone XL oil pipeline, told activists “[i]f this summer’s heat and flames scare you” to join the “largest climate march the West Coast has ever seen” set for San Francisco in September.

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