SACRAMENTO, Calif.– Today a youth-led climate protest brought together advocates from across California for a rally on the west steps of the Capitol followed by a march to the Natural Resources Agency building. The People’s Climate Protest called on Governor Newsom to move the state beyond fossil fuels by ending permitting for oil extraction and protecting communities on the frontlines of industrial oil and gas operations. With wooden props depicting oil derricks and giant flames in the background, youth activists performed a flash mob dance to demand the governor stop permitting oil extraction, drop existing production and roll out 3,200 ft. setbacks separating oil wells and neighborhoods.


Download Photos and Videos of the Protest


“I’m fifteen years old–one of the younger organizers of this protest–and I’m often told things like ‘you’ll understand when you’re older.’ But it doesn’t take ‘being older’ to understand that something is wrong when I can’t go to school because ash falls from the sky like snow,” Sydney Ernest, youth organizer with Sunrise Movement Silicon Valley. “I understand something’s wrong every year when I have to fear for my family’s safety due to climate-related disasters. I understand something’s wrong when my grandmother has to stay with us after losing everything to a fire. I see the effects of previous generations’ actions and the neglect of the people in power. I see how the government has failed the people time and time again.” 


The protest comes at a critical time for Californa’s climate with deadly heat, drought and extreme fires threatening the livability of the state. Just last week, Gov. Newsom made an urgent effort to shore up the state’s climate priorities before the end of the year’s legislative session on August 31. He presented a plan to the legislature that includes mandating a 3,200 foot distance between new and existing oil wells and surrounding communities. But environmental justice communities are already waiting on his agency, state oil regulator CalGEM, to complete a rulemaking process promised nearly three years ago. 


“We’re hoping that this monumental step forward is just the beginning of the Newsom Administration taking a stronger stance to protect millions of Californians from neighborhood drilling. We’re ready to see legislators follow that lead to champion setbacks in any upcoming legislation, taking it beyond the scope of no new permits and engineering controls and closer to what our communities demand: an end to existing drilling within the 3,200ft health and safety setback zone. Our communities are not sacrifice zones, and now with the Governor’s support it’ll be clearer than ever who in the legislature is willing to sell our futures to Big Oil greed.” Kobi Naseck, VISION Coalition Coordinator


Climate scientists and public health experts agree that a phase out of oil and gas production is what is necessary to safeguard a stable climate and vulnerable people’s health and safety–yet California continues to drag its feet on meeting its own climate goals.   


“Along with reducing demand, we know that to avoid the worst impacts of climate chaos we must phase out the extraction of fossil fuels. California must lead the way in a just transition, we need real commitment to turn off the tap of dirty oil. Millions of Californians live in sacrifice zones with oil and gas wells in their backyard, and suffer from chronic illnesses and birth defects because of the influence of Big Oil in the state. We can do better, and we deserve better.” Ilonka Zlatar, president of 350 Sacramento and community organizer with Oil and Gas Action Network.