ENVIRONMENT
09/15/2018 09:02 pm ET

California Launching Its 'Own Damn Satellite' To Track Climate Change Pollution

Gov. Jerry Brown vowed that the state would take matters into its own hands as Donald Trump undoes climate efforts.

California’s not playing when it comes to protecting the environment. The state plans to send up its “own damn satellite” to track pollution causing climate change, Gov. Jerry Brown announced at his Global Action Climate Summit.

“We’re under attack by a lot of people, including Donald Trump, but the climate threat still keeps growing,” Brown said Friday in the closing remarks of the San Francisco conference. “So we’re going to launch our own satellite, our own damn satellite, to figure out where the pollution is, and how we’re going to end it, with great precision.”

The satellite will be built by San Francisco satellite company Planet Labs, also known as Planet. Brown did not offer a cost estimate or timetable.

Brown floated the idea of a state satellite even before Trump settled into the White House amid fears the president would cut funding for climate change research.

Planet, which was founded by former NASA scientists eight years ago, has already launched over 150 Earth-imaging satellites, the largest private satellite fleet in the world. Customers include agribusiness, government, mapping, environmental and other organizations.

The first California satellite will be designed to pinpoint sources of climate pollutants, including “super pollutants” that have more powerful — and destructive — heat-trapping effects, according to a statement from Brown’s office. Planet’s co-founder Robbie Schingler said the technology can “enhance our ability to measure, monitor and ultimately mitigate the impacts of climate change.” 

Planet is already working with the California Air Resources Board to develop and refine the necessary technology, Brown’s statement said. Planet will manage the mission and collaborate with the state government and a number of other donors already on board to fund the initiative.

Data from the satellite would be made available to the public through a partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund. The nonprofit is launching its own pollution-monitoring satellite in 2021 to exclusively track methane emissions spewed by 80 percent of the world’s oil and gas production facilities.

Brown, who called Trump a “liar, criminal and fool” earlier in the week for his attempts to dismantle Obama-era climate change efforts, has been at loggerheads with the president over his environmental policies from the start.

But California, which is the fifth-largest economy in the world, has its own clout. Brown on Monday signed into law Senate Bill 100 which pledges that the state will obtain 100 percent of California’s electricity from clean sources by 2045.

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