April 8 Statewide Action Urges Governor Newsom to Phase Out California’s Fossil Fuel Extraction




By Dan Bacher | 

SACRAMENTO, CA.— Groups with the Last Chance Alliance campaign, including Fridays for Future Sacramento, Sacramento Climate Coalition, 350 Sacramento and  Stand.earth, will hold a statewide direct action on Friday April 8, to demand that Gov. Gavin Newsom demonstrate his climate leadership by phasing out oil and gas drilling and protecting frontline communities. 

Events will be held throughout the state, including Berkeley, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Santa Cruz, LA,  San Diego, Fresno, Coalinga and Bakersfield.   

“As the war in Ukraine has shown us, we need to rapidly shift away from fossil fuels, towards a new era of energy independence through renewable energy sources,” according to a media advisory from the Last Chance Alliance. “Dependence on fossil fuels props up dictators and leaves us all less secure. Fossil fuel burning is also driving the climate crisis and making Californians more vulnerable to record breaking wildfires, drought, and heat. And if that weren’t enough, the fossil fuel industry continues to extract, process and burn its products primarily in frontline communities of color, who are already the most vulnerable to climate change harms.”  

“California has rubber stamped fossil fuel permits for too long but last year the Governor demonstrated his willingness to stand up to Big Oil by committing to banning fracking and rolling out a minimum distance between oil operations and neighborhoods. Now he needs to go further,” the group stated. 

Who: Fridays For Future SacramentoStand.earth, Last Chance Alliance, Sacramento Climate Coalition, 350 Sacramento, Environmental Democrats of Sacramento, Sunrise Movement Sacramento 

What: Activists are calling on Gov Newsom to: Stop, Drop and Roll:

  1. STOP issuing new fossil fuel permits

  2. Set California on a path to DROP existing oil production in line with the Paris climate goals, with a just and equitable transition that protects workers, communities, and economies

  3. ROLL out a strong health and safety community setback rule which includes currently operational oil and gas operations

When: Friday, April 8, 11 AM - 1:30 PM

11 am Photo Opp at Tower Bridge

11:30  March via sidewalk down Capitol Mall w/ chant leader

12 pm Group photo outside of capitol

1 pm  Postcard delivery and closing circle 

Where: “We will gather along the Sacramento side of the Tower Bridge then march to the Capitol to deliver a postcard to a member of the Governor’s staff, representing more than 7000 individual postcards sent in the last year calling for these demands.”

WHY

“This action is planned in the lead up to Earth Day to show the Governor the statewide, grassroots power behind California communities’ call for ending new fossil fuel permits  and strengthening the proposed setback rule.  All across the state, communities will come together to show their support for people, not profit. 

Across CA, fossil fuel operations take place dangerously close to communities.

Over five million Califorians live within a mile of drill sites that use and emit known carcinogens and chemicals with proven records of toxicity. Pollution from drill sites contribute to health impacts including cancer, preterm birth and low birth weights, asthma and other respiratory diseases, hospitalization for heart failure, depression, anxiety, sleep disruption, and severe cases of COVID-19.

What’s worse is that a legacy of environmental racism has left communities of color and low-income communities most severely impacted by oil drilling in their neighborhoods. 

The  Newsom administration is currently reviewing a 3,200 ft. setback rule to separate new oil and gas operations from communities, but this rule must be strengthened to include the active operations that are currently sickening communities. 

Last Chance Alliance is a group of more than 800 organizations united to urge Governor Gavin Newsom to: STOP new fossil fuel permits, DROP existing oil drilling, and ROLL out health and safety buffers.

Governor Newsom has the opportunity to set a global standard for climate leadership that prioritizes health, justice, and equity by committing to a plan to end the permitting of fossil fuel projects, phasing out oil drilling with just transition for the communities and workers most impacted, and separating communities from toxic fossil fuel operations by mandating a 3200 foot setback distance which includes existing wells.”

Background: Big Oil’s Grip on Sacramento  

The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the largest and most powerful corporate lobbying group in Sacramento, has spent over $17.5 million alone lobbying the California Legislature and other state officials over the past three years.

In 2021, WSPA spent $4,397,004 lobbying legislators and state officials to serve Big Oil's agenda, according to data filed with California Secretary of State’s Office.    

The association spent $957,137 on lobbying in the fourth quarter of 2021. The money went to an array of in-house lobbyists and outside lobbying firms, topped by Ramball Environ in Philadelphia that received $116,981 in the fourth quarter and $366,864 in 2021.  

WSPA spent a total of $8.8 million in 2019 and $4,267,181 in 2020 on lobbying California legislators and officials as thousands of oil and gas drilling permits were approved by CalGEM, the state’s oil and gas regulatory agency: www.citywatchla.com/...    

In 2020, even a weak bill recommending health and safety setbacks around oil and gas failed to get through the oil industry-friendly California Legislature.

Then in 2021, another stronger bill, SB 467, failed to pass throughout the legislature because of heavy oil industry lobbying of legislators, including those who had received big campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry. The bill would have banned fracking by 2023 eliminating fracking and instituting mandatory health and safety zones between oil and gas extraction and places where Californians live, work, and study.    

The inordinate influence by Big Oil on California politicians and regulators is most dramatically evidenced by the approval of thousands of new and reworked onshore oil and gas well permits by CalGEM, the state’s oil and gas regulatory agency, since Newsom took office in January 2019.

On the same day the LA City Council voted to ban oil and gas wells in city limits, Consumer Watchdog and FracTracker Alliance reported at www.NewsomWellWatch.org that Governor Newsom has approved 10,212 oil drilling permits since he assumed office in 2019. The total is nearly identical to the number of permits Governor Jerry Brown approved in his first three years.  

Lobbying is just one of the seven methods that Big Oil uses in California to exercise inordinate influence over California regulators. WSPA and Big Oil wield their power in 7 major ways: through (1) lobbying; (2) campaign spending; (3) serving on and putting shills on regulatory panels; (4) creating Astroturf groups; (5) working in collaboration with media; (6) creating alliances with labor unions; and (7) contributing to non profit organizations.  

In one glaring example of oil and gas industry officials serving on regulatory panels, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association, chaired the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create “marine protected areas” in Southern California from 2009 to 2012, as well as serving on the task forces to create “marine protected areas” on the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast from 2004 to 2012.  





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