May 25, 2022

LOS ANGELES — Today, Los Angeles resident and environmental justice activist Nalleli Cobo, 21, received the Goldman Environmental Prize for her work to end neighborhood oil drilling in South Los Angeles and across California. The Goldman Environmental Prize is awarded to grassroots environmental champions from around the world who take significant action to combat climate change and to protect and enhance the natural environment.

Cobo began her activism in 2010, at the age of nine, when she started experiencing medical problems including bloody noses, chronic headaches, and heart palpitations caused by toxic fumes from the AllenCo Oil, Inc. oil drilling facility next door to her family’s apartment in the University Park neighborhood of South Los Angeles. Since its founding, Cobo has worked alongside the Stand Together Against Neighborhood Drilling (STAND-L.A.) coalition in advocating for a phase-out of oil drilling in neighborhoods in Los Angeles.

“I am so excited to receive the Goldman prize as a symbol of the power of communities like mine and of young people around the world who fight every day for climate justice,”said Cobo. “Like so many other activists of color and young climate activists, I did not choose activism. It was born out of survival. We were raised in neighborhoods without the privilege of clean air or green spaces. We inherited environmental breakdown. We were given no other choice than to fight for our communities and our future.”

Cobo’s work with STAND-LA, as well as statewide coalitions including the Last Chance Alliance and Voices in Solidarity Against Oil in Neighborhoods (VISION), has contributed to significant wins to stop oil and gas production across California. In January of 2022, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to pass a motion that will begin the process of phasing out oil drilling throughout the City of Los Angeles.

“I’ve known Nalleli since she was born – I’ve seen her grow from a shy child into a young environmental justice leader in her own right, and a speaker of great power and eloquence,” said Nancy Halpern Ibrahim, Executive Director of Esperanza Community Housing Corporation, a STAND-L.A. Steering Committee member. “Nalleli’s painful witness of health harms in the community, underscored by her own health impacts have propelled her to demand environmental justice for all communities, and the right to breathe clean air. Nalleli’s commitment is as powerful as it is steadfast, and she will continue to accomplish incredible feats in the name of environmental  and climate justice.”

The Goldman Prize recognizes individuals for sustained and significant environmental activism, often at great personal risk or sacrifice. Cobo has balanced her activism with being a full-time student, and now attends college with the hopes of one day becoming a civil rights activist. In 2019, she was also diagnosed with cancer of the reproductive system—which led to a year of undergoing treatment. Since going into remission, Cobo has continued to advocate for the end of urban oil drilling across California. 

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