For Immediate Release, June 26, 2018
Press Contact: Phillip Vander Klay, Elected Officials to Protect California, firstname.lastname@example.org, (916) 764-7056
SACRAMENTO, Calif.— Echoing serious concerns from citizens whose health and safety are threatened by fossil fuel production, a group of more than 100 local elected officials across California sent a letter to Governor Jerry Brown today calling for a statewide plan to phase out oil and gas drilling.
Today’s letter marks the launch of Elected Officials to Protect California, an independent elected officials network working to demand an end to the dirty fossil fuel extraction that harms their constituents and the environment. The network is urging Gov. Brown 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.
“Oil fields make dreadful neighbors. In Culver City, we’re taking steps to end oil extraction in our city,” said Meghan Sahli-Wells, Vice Mayor of Culver City. “I urge Governor Brown to follow suit and protect Californians’ health and our planet’s future from dirty drilling operations.”
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 20,000 permits for new drilling have been issued during the Brown administration.
In addition to the climate damage caused by California’s dirty fuel extraction, thousands of oil and gas wells operate next to homes and schools, releasing toxic air pollutants that cause cancer, asthma and other health problems. Drilling often occurs disproportionately in low-income communities and communities of color who already suffer from some of the worst air quality in the nation.
“Our highest priority is ensuring the health and safety of our communities as we insure job security for a just transition,” said José Gurrola, Mayor of Arvin. “This means holding the oil industry accountable and protecting our most vulnerable residents from fossil fuel production happening near their homes and schools.”
Though the greatest health risks occur within one-half mile from active oil and gas development, 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.
The elected leaders noted that phasing out fossil fuel extraction would create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the state through increased investment in renewable energy, clean vehicles and buildings, energy efficiency, public transportation and other innovative solutions.
“Our city has never been afraid to tackle climate change by taking on the oil industry,” said Serge Dedina, Mayor of Imperial Beach. “This letter is our challenge to Governor Brown to do the same.”
Today’s letter comes as more than 800 environmental, public health and community groups have joined the “Brown’s Last Chance” campaign similarly demanding that Gov. Brown halt new oil and gas drilling in the state and devise a fair and equitable plan to phase it out entirely. If Gov. Brown does not act, he will lose those groups’ support for his Global Climate Action Summit in September.
“I have devoted my life to serve my community and to achieve environmental and climate justice in the San Joaquin Valley on the frontlines of massive contaminating industries,” said Rey León, Mayor of Huron. “Independent elected leaders like myself are standing together to call on Governor Brown to develop a comprehensive plan to 100 percent renewable energy that will phase out fossil fuels while integrating and empowering low-income and farmworker families to be effective stakeholders.”
“We are here with a message to Governor Brown and the nation,” said Elizabeth Patterson, Mayor of Benicia. “We are local elected leaders taking bold steps to ask the state’s leaders including Governor Brown to clean up our cities, towns and agricultural lands and protect our people by calling for an end to the extraction, processing and burning of fossil fuels that makes California one of the largest oil producers on the globe.”
“We turned the corner a couple of years ago in being able to produce and store energy from renewable sources,” said Rex Parris, Mayor of Lancaster. “The only reason to continue supporting the fossil fuel industry is greed. We are out of time because of climate disruption, and must stand up for our children.”
“We must think of the future that our children will inherit, so it is our responsibility not to be short-sighted,” said Carmen Ramirez, Mayor Pro Tem of Oxnard. “We must act now to save that future, and we will be held accountable.”
“A ban on fracking is essential to protecting the health of low-income people in California,” said Yolo County Supervisor Jim Provenza
“Pollution continues to plague air quality in the Central Valley and has such harmful effects on our children, seniors and those with asthma and other lung diseases that too often end up in a doctor’s office, the hospital or emergency room.” said Fresno-area State Center Community College District Trustee Eric Payne. ”Phasing out oil and gas drilling is a step in the right direction to better protect our loved ones.”