In making this commitment, the PV Democrats have agreed to sign onto this letter to Governor Gavin Newsom:
Governor Gavin Newsom
c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814
Dear Governor Newsom,
As environmental, health, justice, faith, labor, community, parent, indigenous rights and consumer organizations from California and around the world, we strongly urge you to champion a vision for California that looks beyond fossil fuels to a future that is safe and healthy for everyone.
Devastating fires, floods, droughts, and sea level rise are upon us today — and the world’s leading scientists warn we have only eleven years to make substantial progress in the transition away from fossil fuels to avert catastrophic harms. While California has taken steps to reduce consumption of fossil fuels, it remains one of the largest oil producers in the United States, and the producer of some of the world’s most climate-polluting oil.
California currently has no plan to address the dirty and dangerous oil and gas extraction within its own borders nor to meaningfully address environmentally and socially harmful crude imported into our state from the Amazon rainforest, Canadian tar sands, and elsewhere. Low-income communities and communities of color disproportionately suffer not only the many impacts of climate disruption, but also from health and safety harms of proximity to oil and gas wells and infrastructure.
In addition to the direct health harms, there is no room for new fossil fuel extraction if the world is to limit warming to achieve the Paris goals and avert catastrophe. The reserves in currently operating oil and gas fields alone, even with no coal, would take the world well beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming if extracted and burned. The unavoidable fact is that many existing oil and gas fields and coal mines will need to be closed before their reserves are fully extracted to limit warming to below 1.5 degrees.
As federal lawmakers consider proposals for a Green New Deal and as you develop the agenda for the next four years of progress on environmental justice and climate action in California, you have the opportunity to set a global standard for climate leadership — one that prioritizes health, justice, and equity.
These challenges will only be addressed with large scale, ambitious action. Given the climate and public-health emergency, we call on you to:
1. STOP new fossil fuel projects: Lead by issuing no new permits for oil and gas extraction, fossil fuel infrastructure, or petrochemical projects in California.
2. DROP existing production: Set a national and global precedent by becoming the first oil-producing state to announce a phase out of existing production in line with the Paris climate goals and a just and equitable transition that protects workers, communities, and economies.
3. ROLL out science-based setbacks. Begin by phasing out existing oil production in places that are suffering most from the impacts of fossil fuel extraction — mostly frontline and fenceline communities, low-income communities and communities of color — by creating a 2500-foot health and safety buffer zone between fossil-fuel infrastructure and homes, schools, and other sensitive sites.
We urge you to prioritize the voices of and organizations led by frontline and fenceline communities — families, workers, health professionals and youth — in the visioning and implementation of a just transition off of a fossil-fuel economy. You have the ability to make California the largest world economy to commit to phasing out oil and gas extraction while ensuring a fair and just transition and the creation of family-sustaining jobs that are safe for people and the planet.
In so doing, you will not only help protect the health and safety of 39 million Californians who now look to you to set a vision that moves us beyond fossil fuels, but you will also make California a leader in ensuring a more equitable and healthy future for billions of people around the world. Will you join us in rising to the greatest challenge of our times?