As wildfires torpedo our state in climate chaos, Governor Brown has an opportunity to demonstrate real climate leadership: commit California to no new permits for oil and gas drilling and an end to fossil fuel infrastructure. Putting us on a rapid and just transition away from dirty energy not only moves us closer to meeting the goals of the Paris accord California has committed to, but also protects communities that face the brunt of the costs of California’s oil problem. Join the movement to Rise for Climate this September 8.
On September 8, a coalition of climate, environmental, faith, and social justice organizations will be rallying and demonstrating at a neighborhood oil drilling site in South LA.
California’s Dirty Oil Problem
Los Angeles is home to the largest urban oil field in the country. Statewide, we’ve long been one of the top domestic producers of oil. While Californians already face climate costs of oil and gas production and consumption in year-round wildfires, more also face the immediate health impacts of drilling in their backyards. Urban drilling impacts residents statewide, from the Central Valley’s Kern County (home to America’s largest oil-producing county) to LA County (where over 2,500 active production wells lie within 2,500-feet of homes, schools or hospital.) Studies have shown proximity to oil and gas wells leads to higher health risks of asthma, high-risk pregnancies, premature births, and cancer.
And these public health impacts of state-permitted oil and gas sites are not indiscriminate. 92% of Californians living in areas heavily burdened by environmental pollution are people of color, with concerns of nosebleeds, noxious odors, noise pollution and long-term health impacts. A statewide 2,500-foot human health and safety buffer is needed to protect residents living in close proximity to oil and gas extraction, and an important step to end this industrial practice that does not belong in our communities.
Governor Brown’s oil and gas record
“If California is to meet its commitment to the Paris climate goals, it must lead on a managed decline of oil and gas production,” a 2018 Price of Oil report found. That is why coalitions such as Brown’s Last Chance demand Governor Brown commit to ceasing permits for new oil wells, which the report also found would lead to a steady decline in oil production of about 10% per year on average from 2019 – 2030.
Unfortunately it seems we are not yet on that path of leadership. Under Governor Brown, California has seen over 20,000 new well permits to oil companies issued, including production and injection wells. Brown has supported legislation expanding fracking in California, accepted millions in financial donations from oil and natural gas interests, and supported carbon trading policies that Indigenous leaders have called “a carbon market mechanism, a land-grabbing false solution to climate change that could potentially cause genocide.”
In the face of 19 major ongoing wildfires that has seen tens of thousands evacuated, hundreds of thousands of acres consumed, and eaten a quarter of the state’s fire budget just one month into the fiscal year, Governor Brown has said we will “have to apply all our creativity to make the best of what is going to be an increasingly bad situation.” In his final months, Brown’s Last Chance is now to demonstrate such a commitment and be a Real Climate Leader.
This is why it is up to all of us to Rise for Climate this September, and demand Governor Brown commit our state to no new permits for oil and gas drilling, end fossil fuel infrastructure, and implement a 2,500-foot safety buffer.
Rise for Climate on Sept 8 and Demand Real Climate Leadership
The national mobilization Rise for Climate is bringing people together for Climate, Jobs, and Justice on September 8. In the Bay area, thousands are planning to line the streets in the largest climate march ever on the west coast. And in Los Angeles, we’re planning a mobilization bringing together Southern California communities to call for unwavering statewide commitment to no new permits for oil or gas drilling or fossil fuel infrastructure and a just transition to 100 percent clean, renewable energy.
In a New York Times op-ed this month, Bill McKibben wrote, “In the end, it’s up to the rest of us to ensure that [Brown], and the California Legislature and leaders everywhere, do the right thing. A large movement of citizens is the only power that can match the financial majesty of the oil industry, and that movement is focused on California for the rest of this summer.”
Rise in the Bay area, in Los Angeles, or find a local action near you, and demand California act on its commitments to protecting climate, jobs, and justice.