MCKITTRICK, CA– Governor Gavin Newsom today visited Chevron’s Cymric oilfield, the site of one of the largest oil spills ever in California, that has reportedly seeped 974,400 gallons of a hazardous mix of oil and wastewater into the surrounding area for over two months. 

During today’s media availability, the governor pledged to continue his work reforming the agency responsible for regulating the fossil fuel industry in California, the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) following his firing of the head of the agency after discovering fracking permits had increased during his time in office without his knowledge. 

The spill has occurred at site that employs an extreme oil-extraction technique called steam injection. Earlier this year, DOGGR adopted weaker restrictions on the practice, making these operations even more dangerous. 

The site is still leaking and rather than focusing its energy on stopping the spill, Chevron said Monday that it plans to appeal a state-mandated order to “take all measures” to stop it and prevent future occurrences. 

While environmental justice, climate and community groups in the Central Valley affiliated with Last Chance Alliance are encouraged by the governor’s visit to the site of the massive leak, they are urging him to take immediate action to protect Californians against the state’s fossil fuel industry:

“We applaud the governor for coming to see first-hand the McKittrick spill. The McKittrick spill goes to show that both the regulated industry and regulators are not meeting their responsibility to protect public health and the environment,” said Cesar Aguirre, a Kern County organizer with Central California Environmental Justice Network. “Even after the governor and his administration requested that action be taken immediately, the spill continued – to what end do you regulate a declining and irresponsible industry? We have seen issues like this before with Nelson Court, where families are still dealing with the ramifications of a leaking gas pipe. CCEJN would like to invite the governor on a tour throughout Kern County to see how this industry devastates the health of communities to understand the full scope of the oil and gas industry’s impact.” 

“While this incident occurred in an isolated area, other similar oil production-related incidents have occurred in proximity to Kern County communities,” said Juan Flores, a Kern County community organizer with the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment. “It is time that state leadership and decision-makers take action and pay attention to the gravity of such incidents. It is time that we put our money where our mouth is and set in place a buffer zone of no less than 2,500 feet to protect our communities, ecological areas and the environment as a whole.”