By Ramona du Houx April 8, 2022 At a pivotal moment for our climate, Californians across the state hit their local streets, bridges and waterways, calling on Gov. Gavin Newsom to end permitting approvals for new fossil fuel projects and strengthen health and safety protections for frontline communities. Community climate actions with advocates in 11 different regions held rallies and […]
By Ramona du Houx
April 8, 2022
At a pivotal moment for our climate, Californians across the state hit their local streets, bridges and waterways, calling on Gov. Gavin Newsom to end permitting approvals for new fossil fuel projects and strengthen health and safety protections for frontline communities. Community climate actions with advocates in 11 different regions held rallies and marches, dropped banners, paddled kayaks, and delivered their demands to the doorstep of the governor’s office.
“Communities across California took action today calling on the Newsom Administration to stop permitting new fossil fuel projects and create a stronger setbacks rule that applies to existing wells. Big Oil should have never had a license to drill in our neighborhoods in the first place, now it’s up to the Newsom Administration to right this wrong through a comprehensive setbacks rule that applies to existing wells as well as new wells,” said Kobi Naseck, coordinator for VISIÓN, a coalition of environmental justice and frontline groups in California.
Elected Officials to Protect America (EOPA) California hosted a virtual press conference with elected officials in solidarity with the statewide day of action.Over 430 elected officials, representing half of all Californians, have signed an EOPA California letter to Governor Newsom urging bold action on the climate crisis. Since then, Newsom has taken noteworthy steps; a 2045 oil production phaseout goal, a proposed ban on new fracking, a 3,200-foot setback rule for new oil wells. He’s also been vocal about the need to make fossil fuels “part of our past,” and has adopted an all of government approach.
“There are currently about 3,800 active wells in Ventura County. While we made history with our own resolution that created setbacks of 2,500 feet for wells, the oil industry is doing everything within their power to abolish it. We need the governor’s setback rule for oil wells to include existing oil wells. When fires raged around our agricultural workers they kept working. They should never have had to face conditions caused by fossil fuel production, which steals water from our community and contributes to the climate crisis. I implore the governor to stop new permitting for oil wells. Children today and the next generations deserve a future free of fossil fuel pollution and degradation. We must do what we can to save our planet before it is too late.,” said Carmen Ramirez, Ventura County Supervisor, EOPA California Leadership Council.
The statewide actions come as the latest UN climate report warns that leaders are moving far too slowly to curb fossil fuels and avoid the worst harms of the climate crisis, a warning echoed by similarly dire reports to the California legislature. California is one of the nation’s largest oil producers and boasts the fifth largest economy in the world, making the state uniquely suited to create a global climate impact by ending new oil and gas permitting.
From Bakersfield to the Bay Area, Californians across the state—many with fossil fuel operations in their own communities– united in calling on Gov. Newsom to lead on climate by saying no to new fossil fuel projects.
Fossil fuels are driving the climate crisis and making Californians more vulnerable to deadly fires, drought, and heat. Oil and gas companies are currently raking in record profits while Californians are suffering the consequences of both climate change and the inherent instability of a fossil fuel economy.
“Fossil fuels have made California more vulnerable to apocalyptic fires, drought, and deadly heat. Still, the fossil fuel industry continues to extract and burn its products primarily in frontline communities of color. I ‘m grateful for the leadership of Governor Newsom on climate issues. But we’re California. We can do better. Doing better, as the Governor put it during his State of the State address, means ‘running our economy on a carbon-free engine’ because it is ‘the California Way, said Heidi Harmon, Former Mayor San Luis Obispo & Co-chair of Elected Officials to Protect America California.
While Newsom stops new fossil fuel projects clean energy project, providing good union jobs, could be ramped up.
As the tragic invasion of Ukraine has made clear, dependence on fossil fuels props up dictators and leaves us the world less secure.
“Putin’s murderous genocidal war has been financed by $285M from sales of Russian oil daily. Every day I recoil from images of neighborhoods where I played as a youngster as they go up in flames and are reduced to rubble. The emptiness, and loss are hard to express. We owe it to our shared humanity to act decisively to help now. We can help protect democratic nations, who are reliant on fossil fuels, to become energy secure, by showing the way,” said Igor Tregub, Chair of the California Democratic Party Environmental Caucus and Former Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board Member, Elected Officials to Protect America California. “Bolstering our energy supply with renewable solutions like distributed solar is a viable local solution that can be catalyzed right now. On a larger scale, offshore wind’s potential is yet to be realized. These and other renewable energy investments will catalyze the creation of thousands of new, well-paying Californian jobs, grow our economy, and, literally save lives.”
Extraction and production pose significant threats to public health, especially to communities on the front lines of oil and gas operations. Right now, frontline communities and their allies are fighting to strengthen a proposed draft rule to end new oil drilling in neighborhoods so that it also applies to the existing operations that have been polluting for decades.
“Refineries produce an airborne toxic soup of carcinogens, neurotoxins, and hazardous metals, including benzene, hydrogen cyanide, particulate matter, and lead. These toxins can cause cancer, birth defects, neurological damage, chronic bronchitis, and all too often asthma. These are the debilitating health realities Richmond faces daily. People living here just want a chance to live productive, healthy lives,.The state has to stop valuing fossil fuel profits over the lives and livelihoods of communities on the frontlines. Governor, please stop issuing any new oil permits, and put setbacks in place for existing wells, said Eduardo Martinez, Richmond Vice Mayor, Elected Officials to Protect America California Leadership Council.
Last year, Gov. Newsom took important concrete steps to move beyond oil and gas including announcing a 2045 oil production phaseout goal and a proposed fracking ban by 2024. He’s also been vocal about the need to make fossil fuels “part of our past.” However, Newsom has yet to commit to halting permits for new fossil fuel projects. Climate justice advocates are hopeful that their actions today have sent a strong message to Sacramento: California is in a climate emergency and permitting new fossil fuel projects will only make it worse.
“UC Berkeley students are taking action with a banner drop photo op to call on Governor Newsom to commit to no new fossil fuel permits by the end of 2022. As young people, we are quite literally seeing our future go up in smoke in California with raging wildfires catalyzed by the fossil fuel industry. We believe that young people have the voice and energy to call on those in power to end the era of fossil fuels for good, which is why we are taking action today.” — Alex Masci, first-year undergraduate at UC Berkeley and coordinator for CA Youth Vs. Big Oil
“The waters of the Bay Area have been dominated by oil refineries and polluting industries for too long. As we demand Governor Newsom help bring us into a fossil-free future by ending new permitting for oil and gas – kayak-tivists are helping reclaim these beautiful waters for people.” — Matt Leonard, Director of Oil and Gas Action Network
“We are taking action because extreme fires, drought and heat – fueled by the climate crisis – are already taking their toll on Californians. We are taking action because we believe in worker power, unionization, and taking back what we are owed. Most importantly, we are taking action because we deserve to live in a world with clean air and water. Governor Gavin Newsom must strengthen the setbacks and say no to new permits for oil wells in order for that to be a possibility.” — Maricruz Ramirez, Center on Race Poverty and the Environment.
“I speak for my ancestors who couldn’t, but my existence is from an answer or who survived from the great walk from Coalinga. The demand of water and oil has not only have made us relocate but also hurt mother earth, because of this we demand California stop drilling where we’re living.” — Cecilia Moreno, a frontline community member living near oil drilling.
“It has taken Newsom and his administration years to make a rule that will protect California’s Frontline communities. dragging his feet has led to counties like Fresno increasing drilling. The lack of urgency is costing lives. It’s time to take action now to make sure the Central valley is not a sacrifice zone to oil and gas.” — Jasmine Buenrostro, organizer with Central California Environmental Justice Network.
“A side agreement signed by President Biden at the climate conference in Glasgow, acknowledged that we must quickly stop using methane gas, as this fossil fuel is a larger contributor to climate change impacts than once realized. We also know the gas storage & oil pumping facilities in Playa del Rey and Aliso Canyon have caused severe illness to residents in surrounding communities. Los Angeles activists today sent a strong message to Governor Newsom to protect the health of our planet and our people, by stopping issuance of new or re-work permits for these facilities, and to shut them down.” — Marcia Hanscom, a leader in the community coalition, Protect Playa Now.
“Governor Newsom’s rhetoric touting a renewable energy future for California belies his inaction on shutting down fossil gas plants like Playa del Rey and Aliso Canyon, a glaring omission in his climate plans. Fracked gas tethers Californians to the greed of fossil fuel companies, while sacrificing the health and safety of communities to the bottom line of investor-owned utilities like SoCalGas. For Newsom’s actions to catch up with his words, he must stop all oil and gas permitting and close natural gas facilities like Playa del Rey and Aliso Canyon for good.” — Alexandra Nagy, California director of the national advocacy nonprofit Food & Water Watch.
“Governor Newsom is uniquely positioned to start California on a path toward climate justice and a future where our state becomes the model for subsequent energy revolutions. Oil is a finite resource. If not now, when?” — Paige Thionnet, climate organizer.
“As Californians raise our voices urging Governor Newsom to end fossil fuel permitting across the state, we’re also reminding him that CA consumes half of all oil exported from the Amazon so this moment offers a crucial opportunity to ensure that CA won’t contribute to new drilling in these critical rainforests. This kind of leadership is what the world needs and will also have positive ripple effects in frontier regions threatened by oil expansion around the globe.” — Wilder Zeiser, Stand.earth
“I am growing up in a time where youth are increasingly concerned for our futures. I joined in organizing this demonstration because I want our leaders to take action to prevent our current climate crisis. As Youth, we need to raise our voices to protect our planet in order to create a sustainable world for not everyone to live in. I believe that people, not profit is a powerful message reminding us to prioritize the lives of people over the profits of corporations. I think that in order to create an equitable world we need to stop the disproportionate environmental impacts that frontline communities face.” — Keala Minna-Choe, climate advocate.
“Oil and gas drilling in Santa Barbara and throughout California endangers all of us by contributing to the climate crisis. We’ve all seen fires destroy neighborhoods and smoke suffocate the skies as wildfires worsen year after year. Moreover, oil and gas drilling disproportionately harms black and brown and lower-income communities. We’ve gathered together in Santa Barbara to show that the health of our communities and local ecosystems are more important than the oppression-fueled wealth of the fossil fuel industry, especially with opportunities for a just transition to renewable energy. We’re calling on Newsom to stand up for our communities and reject new fossil fuel projects now, for our people, our planet, and our future.” — Alyssa Jain, youth climate organizer and student and University of California Santa Barbara.
“Santa Cruz calls on Gov Newsom to act for livable futures, including ending new fossil fuel and strengthening setback rules to include new and existing wells, and stand in solidarity with the many communities calling on the Governor to act.” — Patrick Buddeberg-Neffe with Sunrise Santa Cruz.