Educational course on carbon management is coming to Kern | News

Kern County educators will undergo training this weekend on how to teach their students about the potential for fighting climate change through a locally promising process called carbon capture and sequestration, or CCS.

Using a 14-day curriculum developed with the help of Northern California’s Lawrence Livermore National Lab, teachers at four local high schools, plus Bakersfield College and Cal State Bakersfield, will be taught introductory-level science of removing carbon from the air and burying it permanently in local oilfields.

The school’s partnership with the lab and its nonprofit arm, the Livermore Lab Foundation, extends a collaboration that started earlier this year in meetings with leaders of the B3K Prosperity economic development initiative, which has identified renewable energy as a promising source of good jobs well into the future.

Of 30 teachers participating in the teaching program, 16 are local. Besides representing the two higher-education institutions, educators involved work at East Bakersfield, Ridgeview, South and Taft Union high schools. Teachers who participate in the pilot program will be given an opportunity to attend the national laboratory’s Teacher Research Academy in summer 2022.

“This education and outreach program is significant to Kern because it provides key information, in a variety of digestible components, for the general population to learn about carbon cleanup,” B3K leader Kristen Beall Watson said by email. She added that the creation of a teaching “deck” may be the most significant of the effort’s outcomes.

The curriculum has four parts, starting with ocean acidification. From there it delves into the global implications of excess carbon dioxide. Then it gets into modeling CCS in California, and concludes with creation of a public service announcement for California’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2045 and the role CCS can play in achieving it.

CCS has attracted interest among Kern oil producers anxious to apply their technical expertise, infrastructure and trained personnel in an emerging field of business being subsidized by the state and federal governments.

No local projects have received final approval or funding but one of the area’s leading producers, Santa Clarita-based California Resources Corp., has proposed two multibillion-dollar projects that would inject carbon deep into local oil reservoirs.

Lawrence Livermore National Lab has been studying the underlying technology for years and sees CCS, especially in Kern, as contributing heavily to the state’s eventual carbon neutrality.

“Climate change represents a very real national security risk,” lab Director Kim Budil said in a news release. “As we look to the future, dealing with the carbon already in the environment is essential, so CO2 removal and storage technologies will play a key role in the world’s response to this threat.”

The overall effort is known as the Carbon Cleanup Initiative. It was developed in part through input from more than 1,200 voters and 30 community leaders in Kern and the greater Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta area, which is considered the other region of the state with substantial CCS opportunities.

In the news release, the lab foundation’s executive director, Sally Allen, emphasized more people should know about the promise of carbon management.

“As carbon removal technologies and mitigation programs become more prevalent and begin to be implemented,” she said, “it’s critical that the general public and all stakeholders have access to accurate, unbiased information that’s based on science, as well as the interests of all stakeholders.”

Editor’s note: This story has been changed to clarify Budil’s job title.

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