Over 315 elected officials tell Newsom: declare a state of emergency for the climate crisis

Elected Officials to Protect California (EOPCA) held a press conference at the State Capitol on February 14, 2020. Photo by Dan Bacher. | 

By Dan Bacher |   

Elected Officials to Protect California (EOPCA), a group featuring over 315 officials from 49 counties throughout the state, will hold a virtual press conference on Wednesday, September 23, 2020, at 10:00 a.m. asking Governor Gavin Newsom to accelerate California plans to transition to 100% clean, renewable energy by the year 2035 instead of the current date of 2045.

To achieve this Newsom, must declare a state of emergency for the climate crisis, EOPCA said in a press advisory. 

The link to the press conference on ZOOM is here: Elected Officials to Protect California/ZOOM

“Elected officials will speak personally about what they are doing to curb climate change and how the current fire season has impacted their communities,” the group said.More than 110 local governments in California have passed 160 local policies to protect their communities from fossil fuels. They took action. It’s time the state addressed the climate emergency,” the group said. 

EOPCA also urged Newsom to “stop California from being America’s 3rd largest crude oil producer”  

The speakers will be:

Alex Cornell du Houx, President of Elected Officials to Protect California
Meghan Sahli-Wells, Culver City Council Member, EOPCA Co-Chair
Mayor Heidi Harmon of San Luis Obispo, EOPCA Steering Committee Member
Carmen Ramirez, Mayor Pro Tem Oxnard, EOPCA Steering Committee Member
Dan Kalb, Oakland City Council Member

The climate crisis considerably increases the frequency and severity of wildfires, as we are now seeing throughout the state, according to the California Air Resources Board.

Californians have been experiencing this reality on a daily basis, spurring Governor Newsom to say: “We’re in the midst of a climate emergency. We’re in the midst of a climate crisis … Across the entire spectrum, our (climate) goals are inadequate to the reality we’re experiencing. We’re going to have to fast-track our efforts.”

In a meeting and press conference about the California fires with President Donald Trump on September 14, Newsom told Trump:  “The hots are getting hotter. The dries are getting drier. The evidence is all around us -- climate change is REAL.” 

However, Newsom’s words contrast dramatically with his actions on climate change. Since he became Governor in January 2019, Newsom’s regulators have approved a total of 7474 oil and gas drilling permits in California.  

The agency in charge of regulating oil and gas drilling, CalGEM, has approved over 1547 new oil and gas drilling permits in 2020 to date. 190% more oil and gas drilling permits were issued in the first six months of this year than in the same six months last year under Governor Newsom, according to data from Consumer Watchdog and the FracTracker Alliance.

The permit numbers and locations are posted and updated on an interactive map at the website: NewsomWellWatch.com 

EOPCA believes “it is imperative for the safety of state and nation to implement tangible results, not hollow promises.”

Specifically, the group asked Governor Newsom to declare a state of emergency for the climate crisis on September 2, right after the first heatwave and subsequent fire lightning strikes that fed off the tinder box drought conditions that were fueled by climate change. But Newsom ignored the EOPCA request.

On September 16, 2020, EOPCA sent a follow-up letter urging the climate crisis state of emergency declaration that would enable the governor to take necessary steps that can be monitored to mitigate the crisis by phasing out fossil fuel production in California.

“We have to hold the governor’s feet to the proverbial fire,” said Meghan Sahli-Wells, former Culver City Mayor, and current Council-member, as well as Elected Officials to Protect California Co-Chair. “The situation has only gotten worse. Lives are being lost; families uprooted and businesses destroyed. We can’t afford to wait. The state should transition to 100 percent clean, renewable energy by 2035 — 2045 is too late. We want him to do more than just say the right thing. The people that over 315 of us represent, are the same people Governor Newsom represents. They need him to act now — before the flames of climate change can’t be contained.”

“This fire season and the pandemic are clear results of humans disrupting the environment — it’s time our governor took real action. When is he going to see he’s fueling the fires that have caused this climate emergency? I’m proud to serve as Co-Chair of Elected Officials to Protect California; we’re standing up for our communities, for all Californians. With one stroke of the pen, issuing a state of emergency for the climate crisis, the governor could begin to phase out all fossil fuel production —  to match the urgency of the climate crisis we are living in,” Sahli-Wells concluded. 

Press Contact: Alex Cornell du Houx, President, Elected Officials to Protect California, Cell: 207.319.4511

Background: Big Oil exerts enormous influence over California politicians and regulators

Why is the Newsom Administration approving increasing numbers of oil and gas permits during a pandemic as deadly fires rage, when you would expect regulators to approve less? It might have something to do with the uncomfortable fact that the oil industry is the most powerful corporate lobby in California.

Last year the Western States Petroleum Association, the most powerful lobbying organization in the state, pumped more money into lobbying than any other organization in California, spending a total of $8.8 million. The San Ramon-based Chevron pumped the third most money into lobbying, a total of $5.9 million. The lobbying expenses of the two oil industry giants came to a total of $14.7 million.

During the first quarter of 2020, at the same time that the Newsom Administration approved 1,623 total oil drilling permits, the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) spent $1,089,702 lobbying state officials.

Chevron spent even more: $1,638,497 in the first quarter of 2020 to influence legislators, the Governor’s Office and other state officials. The two oil industry giants combined to spend a total of $2,728,199 lobbying from January 1-March 31.

In the second quarter of 2020, WSPA spent $1,220,986 while Chevron spent $974,322 on lobbying in California, a total of $2,195,308.  

Big Oil’s tentacles extend far and wide in California politics. Lobbying is just one of the methods that Big Oil uses in California to exercise inordinate influence over California regulators. WSPA and Big Oil wield their power in 6 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 (6) contributing to non-profit organizations.

A classic example of deep regulatory capture in California is how Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the 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 at the same time that she was lobbying for new oil drilling off the West Coast.

For more information, read: www.counterpunch.org/ 

Follow Dan Bacher on @DanBacher
Copyright by Elk Grove News © 2020. All right reserved.



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