Make Polluters Pay

Dirty Thirty edition 4: Pollution and emissions

Oil and gas companies contribute to high levels of pollution and smog in California

NOAA | Public Domain

Welcome to day 4 of The Dirty Thirty. Today, we’ll look at how the oil and gas industry contributes to California’s significant air pollution problem.

Emissions from the gas and oil industry directly contribute to high levels of smog and pollution in California. The state houses 15 refineries, in addition to thousands of gas and oil wells. 

The American Lung Association’s 2023 state of the air report, which measures smog, daily particle pollution, and annual particle pollution, highlights the overall poor air quality in California. Fine particle pollution, which contributes to premature death and health complications, earned 41 California counties an “F” grade. California cities like the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and Bakersfield are among the most polluted in the nation. Notably, these metropolitan areas are all heavily impacted by fossil fuel operations and infrastructure. 

Air pollution is bad throughout the state- and the situation could be worse than originally measured. A new study published in April of 2023 revealed that methane emissions from gas and oil drill sites exceeded the EPA’s estimates from 2010-2019 by 70%. 

The longer California lawmakers allow fossil fuel companies to operate in California, the longer Californians will endure some of the worst pollution in the nation. Californians are relying on decision makers to vote in favor of climate protections that will help the state reach emissions reductions and improve air quality. 

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