February 10, 2021 

SAN FRANCISCO – A group of community, business, faith, and environmental advocates sent a letter to Governor Newsom’s administration leaders on February 10, 2021, providing suggestions for an inclusive public process and five key recommendations for studies concerning the transition away from fossil fuels mandated by Governor Newsom in a recent executive order.  

The more than 75 groups and individuals signed onto the letter include the Sierra Club, Idle No More, and Natural Resources Defense Council.

The letter notes that without a smart and transparent process, the decommissioning of oil refineries in California are likely to burden neighboring, fenceline communities, which are disproportionately communities of color. Policies need to be developed immediately to prevent employment, tax base, and environmental issues from damaging communities as refineries go offline.

“We must plan for the inevitable transition from fossil to renewable fuels, and for that transition to be economically and environmentally just for workers and nearby communities,” said Eduardo Martinez, City Councilmember in Richmond, California, which recently passed a resolution to support the asks in the letter. “We must ensure that taxpayers aren’t left paying for the damage that industry caused.”

The groups outlined the five following focal points to ensure a just transition for refinery workers and communities:

  • (1) the need for direct wage and benefit supports,
  • (2) the central role of local communities in just transition,
  • (3) ways to address the need for contaminated site cleanup,
  • (4) the need to closely scrutinize biofuel conversion projects, and
  • (5) the need to secure financial support for a just transition from industry. 

“With California’s declining oil industry slipping into the rearview mirror, it’s critical that we focus on what’s next economically for our state,” said Ann Alexander, a senior attorney at NRDC, (Natural Resource Defense Council.) “The just transition reports ordered by the Governor offer a great chance to do that, but the public has to be involved front and center.”