Heatwaves, wildfires and toxic air. California is in a climate emergency. The science is clear: to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change we must stop oil and gas drilling and phase out fossil fuels. Yet, our leaders continue to allow Big Oil to drill across the state locking us into a future of climate-driven disasters.

Despite our reputation as a climate leader, California is the nation’s seventh-largest producer of crude oil and the third-largest oil refiner. Oil drilled in California is among the dirtiest in the world and over the last decade it’s only gotten worse. California’s oil is more carbon-intensive than the notoriously dirty Canadian tar sands crude. Since the 19th century oil drilling has produced pollutants and destructive gasses that leave lasting damage on our health and environment. 

Oil and gas companies are currently raking in record profits while Californians are suffering the consequences of both climate change and the inherent instability of a fossil fuel economy. Halting all new oil and gas operations is not enough for California to meet our climate and clean air goals. We must also phase out many existing projects in a way that prioritizes the communities and workers most directly impacted. 


FACT SHEET: Oil and Gas Drilling Harms to People

California’s Climate Emissions Are Falling, But Cap-and-trade Is Not The Cause

The Sky’s Limit: Unpacking the Climate Math

Need to Know: The Case for Oil Transparency in California

OIL STAIN: How Dirty Crude Undercuts California’s Climate Progress

Killer Crude: How California Produces Some of the Dirtiest, Most Dangerous Oil in the World

Existing fossil fuel extraction would warm the world beyond 1.5 °C

As California’s highest elected leader, Governor Gavin Newsom has a moral responsibility to defend Californians of color, safeguard our climate future and uphold a healthy, just democracy. After years of advocacy led by frontline Californians and their climate justice allies, Gov. Newsom has taken significant steps to move beyond oil and gas including announcing a 2045 oil production phaseout goal and a proposed fracking ban by 2024. He’s also been vocal about the need to make fossil fuels “part of our past. But he has stopped short of announcing a halt to permitting new oil drilling–the urgent action we need to move California beyond fossil fuels.

He has the power as Governor of California to immediately stop issuing new fossil fuel permits, accelerate the timeline for a just transition away from existing oil drilling, and protect frontline communities by ending neighborhood drilling.

It’s time for Newsom to walk his own talk. He cannot be the climate leader he says he wants to be — for the state and the entire nation — unless he confronts California’s fossil fuel problem head-on and supports workers and communities in the phase-out of extraction. We need the governor to immediately halt all new fossil fuel permits, establish a 3,200-foot buffer to protect communities living near new and existing oil wells, and lead the state’s just transition off of fossil fuels.


Newsom Well Watch

Approvals for new oil and gas wells up in California

Gavin Newsom Hands Out Fracking Permits to Connected Driller

Oil Companies Are Profiting From Illegal Spills. And California Lets Them.

California’s oil industry threatens the health and lives of communities. Big Oil leaves families from Los Angeles to Kern County breathing in toxic air in their neighborhoods day in and day out, susceptible to the irreparable long-term impacts on their physical and mental health.

There is an overwhelming body of scientific evidence that proves that exposure to toxic emissions and chemicals from oil and gas drilling can cause health impacts ranging from nosebleeds to chronic headaches, increased risks of asthma and other respiratory illnesses, preterm birth consequences, and increased risk of cancer. 

Due to a history of housing discrimination, redlining, and environmental racism, Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and low-income communities are disproportionately impacted by oil wells and refineries in their neighborhoods. They are the ones paying the true cost of air pollution and the climate crisis. It comes as no surprise that frontline communities of color have higher rates of asthma and other respiratory illnesses—and why Latinx, Black, Indigenous, and low-income Californians are the most impacted by the coronavirus, with double the mortality rate in comparison to white residents. 

Communities on the front lines of fossil fuel production have been leading the call for a health and safety setback policy that would separate oil wells from homes, schools, healthcare facilities, and childcare facilities. Newsom’s proposal of 3,200 feet is common sense – but we must expand this to include existing wells, not just new ones. 


People and Production: Reducing Risk in California Extraction

Living near oil and gas wells may increase preterm birth risk, according to Stanford research

Air pollution linked with higher COVID-19 death rates

Climate Change Tied to Pregnancy Risks, Affecting Black Mothers Most

Implications of a 3,200’ Setback in California

The need to ensure a just and equitable transition off fossil fuel production has never been more urgent. Instead of an unmanaged and unjust decline, we urge state and local governments to begin a managed transition that prioritizes the economic and physical health of affected workers and communities tied to oil and gas revenue.

To protect fossil fuel-dependent workers and communities for the long haul, we need clear, actionable and achievable plans. Transition plans must be informed by community stakeholders. At a minimum, a planned phaseout of oil production should ensure that every worker facing displacement in the transition is provided with guaranteed pensions and health benefits, guaranteed re-employment in jobs with family-sustaining wages, a bridge of income, retraining, and relocation support, along with other assurances they can continue to provide for their families in the move to an economy beyond fossil fuels. The state could start this process by providing job opportunities to laid-off oil and gas workers cleaning up and remediating tens of thousands of idle oil wells across the state.

California must also plan to support communities that receive tax revenue from fossil fuel production—ensuring they receive tax-base-replacement assistance and investment in local economic development that is community-informed. New economic opportunities must be distributed equitably and made available to workers who never had access to oil and gas jobs in the first place.

Ensuring that all workers and communities are protected in the transition away from fossil fuels is a critical step toward the broader transformation we need as we move from an extractive economy to a more sustainable, equitable, and caring economy.


As climate change hits California, will Gov. Newsom clean up oil industry’s mess?

Orphan wells in California —California Council on Science and Technology

Californians Overwhelmingly Want Action on Oil Hazards, Just Transition

Our fight for climate justice and our fight for racial justice are one in the same. Systems built on racism have policed Black and Brown bodies and polluted Black and Brown communities for far too long—creating decades of physical and mental health disparities that are causing people of color to face severe impacts of the climate crisis. All of us, together, must take action to dismantle white supremacy—that includes the fossil fuel industry.

California’s oil extraction is environmental racism. More than 2.7 million Californians live within 3,200 feet of an existing operational oil and gas well, the majority of which are communities of color already severely overburdened with other forms of pollution. A history of housing discrimination, redlining, and environmental racism has resulted in a reality where oil wells pump and pollute near Californian homes, schools, parks, and playgrounds, leaving residents to breathe in the toxic emissions for generations. 

We know that the mainstream environmental movement has historically been centered on whiteness and complicity in the oppression of Black, Latinx, API, and Indigenous voices. Last Chance Alliance does not tolerate racism in any form and strives to be an anti-racist alliance.  We know that our fight against the fossil-fueled climate crisis and the fight against white supremacy are deeply connected. The climate justice movement and the racial justice movement are one and the same. 


Movement for Black Lives Policy Platform

NRDC: Drilling in California – Who’s at risk?

Here’s how racism is disastrous for the climate

Historic redlining and the siting of oil and gas wells in the United States