45 Elected Officials Urge California Gov. Newsom to Phase Out Oil and Gas Production

Former Maine State Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, Elected Officials to Protect America co-founder, speaking at an event raising awareness to the need to stop extracting oil in California.  

 

In Bipartisan Letter, Hundreds of Officials Say that Costs of California’s Fossil Fuels Industry Too High for Public Health and the Climate Crisis

One week after the historic Global Climate Strikes and U.N. Climate Summit in New York City, on California Clean Air Day, 45 local elected officials from throughout Los Angeles County have joined with more than 290 local officials from 47 counties across California to urge Governor Gavin Newsom to create a statewide plan to phase out oil and gas drilling in California.

The elected officials cited the ongoing, massive oil spill in Kern County and accelerating climate disasters across California and echoed grave concerns that fossil fuel production threatens the health and safety of our communities. It’s also a terrible environmental justice issue. The L.A. area elected officials called on Gov. Newsom to enact a plan to phase out the production of oil and gas in California, starting by ending new permits and instituting 2,500-foot public health setbacks on drilling.

"We need California to lead in phasing out fossil fuels that are driving the climate crisis and poisoning our water and air,” said  Mayor Gleam Davis, City of Santa Monica. “Santa Monica already has committed to decarbonizing its economy. But only by eliminating the production and reliance on fossil fuels will we be able to protect our localities from the devastating effects of global warming and pollution that is harming our public health."

The growing bipartisan network of county, city, and school board officials, which launched as Elected Officials to Protect California in 2018, is taking action both within their respective jurisdictions and across California to end the extraction of dirty fossil fuel that harms their constituents and the environment.  

Already, more than 80 local governments in California have passed more than 115 local policies to protect their communities from fossil fuels, including phase-out plans or setbacks on oil and gas drilling, climate lawsuits or divestment from fossil fuel companies, or opposing expansion of fossil fuel production or infrastructure. The officials called on Governor Newsom to follow their lead.  

“As President Donald Trump is gutting basic environmental protections for cars and power plants, the State of California must not only fight back against these rollbacks, but also lead in addressing the root of the climate crisis: the production and burning of fossil fuels,” said Councilmember Paul Koretz, City of Los Angeles. “It has become increasingly clear that it is up to elected officials at the local levels to lead.”

The network is asking Gov. Newsom to take the first step by halting permits for new fossil fuel projects, prohibiting drilling within 2,500 feet of homes and vulnerable areas and committing the state to 100 percent renewable energy. 

“As an elected official representing a city that was founded on oil more than 100 years ago and continues to experience the enduring health effects of our addiction to fossil fuels, I ask Governor Newsom to implement a plan that will phase out the extraction and use of fossil fuels in California,” said Councilmember Tim Goodrich, City of Torrance. “I've driven an electric car since 2011, saving countless dollars on fuel and maintenance. We have the technology to create a cleaner future and I hope the Governor will see that leading this effort is a win-win for all Californians.”

Despite its reputation as a global climate leader, California is one of the nation’s top oil-producing states. Oil produced in California is some of the dirtiest and most climate-damaging crude in the world, yet there are currently no plans to ramp down extraction. In fact, more than 21,000 permits for new drilling have been issued since 2011. Of these new oil and gas wells permitted by the state, 76 percent are located in communities with above-average poverty rates for California, and 67 percent are located in communities of color.

“The majority of California’s fossil fuel production is based in low-income communities of color which receive little to no economic benefit for the industry but bear the brunt of the deadly pollutants produced,” said Laura Santos, Trustee, Mt. San Antonio College Board. “The history of fossil fuel production in the State of California is a story of environmental injustice at its worst.  For the sake of all our people, especially our children and their children, we must act now.”

The most damaging health risks of oil and gas drilling occur within a one-half mile radius of active oil and gas development. according to the California Council on Science and Technology. Yet, California has no statewide policy limiting the proximity of drilling to homes, schools or other sensitive areas. According to a recent poll, nearly two-thirds of California voters support phasing out oil and gas drilling within half a mile of homes, schools and other vulnerable sites.

More than 6 million people, including tens of thousands in California, marched in the September Climate Strikes demanding action to phase out fossil fuels. More than 750 grassroots organizations in California and around the world are urging the Golden State to set a global precedent by announcing a phase-out of existing dirty fuel production.

Despite its reputation as a global climate leader and leading in clean energy development, California is also one of the nation’s top oil-producing states. Oil produced in California is some of the dirtiest and most climate-damaging crude in the world, yet there are currently no plans to ramp down extraction. 

The letter and signatories of Elected Officials to Protect California are at californiaelectedofficials.org.