SACRAMENTO, CA—Today, California Governor Gavin Newsom released his 2021 state budget, which fails to directly address the extraction and production of in-state fossil fuels, despite the climate and health threats posed to communities living near pollution sites during this pandemic. California’s failed regulation of oil and gas production has long left communities unprotected, but the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with dangerous climate change-fueled wildfires, have brought the state’s systemic failures into sharper focus. 

Despite repeated commitments that protecting public health is a priority, Newsom has yet to go far enough in addressing the health and climate threats from oil extraction disproportionately impacting California’s communities of color. While his proposed 2021-2022 budget would provide significant investment in clean car technology, and allocates additional funding for oversight to the scandal-plagued oil and gas regulator CalGEM, these actions must be matched with a commitment to stop doing favors for the oil and gas industry and to protect communities exposed to the harmful health impacts of fossil fuel extraction.

As the state confronts a new wave of the virus, Governor Newsom has the responsibility to aid the most affected Californians – including frontline workers, teachers and students in our schools, the unhoused, as well as Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities living near dangerous fossil fuel pollution. Californians need a concrete, forward-looking plan that leaves us more resilient in the face of future emergencies, such as the growing climate crisis. Now is the moment for us to build a more just and healthy future for all.

Below please find statements from members of Last Chance Alliance, a coalition of groups urging Governor Newsom to prioritize equity and public health and to build a just climate future:

“There is a growing body of evidence linking air pollution to higher rates of COVID-19 deaths. That means, from Los Angeles to Kern County, primarily Black and Latino working-class communities who disproportionately live near oil infrastructure and often breathe the worst air quality in the nation are reeling from dual crises of a pandemic and environmental injustice. While Governor Newsom tweets that “climate change is real”, his administration gave thousands of permits to oil companies during a pandemic, while doing nothing to support frontline communities who have been demanding stronger health protections like 2,500-foot setbacks for years. We need our Governor and his budget to meet the moment by realizing the vision that Californians have for our just climate future: our recovery from COVID-19 is an opportunity to build back better and build back fossil-free while supporting working families and communities of color.” 

– Martha Dina Argüello, Executive Director, Physicians for Social Responsibility – Los Angeles

“Governor Newsom’s budget haphazardly throws money at wildfire mitigation without addressing the root cause of the problem: fossil fuels. While COVID-19 ravages our communities, oil drilling deals another blow to Californians’ safety and health that none of us can afford. In order to solve the climate crisis and heal a post-pandemic world, we need bold vision. We need a rapid, just transition to a clean, green economy. Newsom’s budget pads the pockets of his lobbyist friends, but doesn’t protect Californians from dangerous oil drilling. This budget is a nonstarter.” – Alexandra Nagy, Food & Water Watch California Director.

“This pandemic has laid bare hardships and innumerable inequalities for Californians. As we continue to navigate this uncertain time, the Newsom administration must provide both immediate relief and a path forward for those in need – our teachers and students, the unhoused, frontline workers, as well as workers laid off by the declining oil industry and the communities of color suffering from the compounding health impacts of living near oil drilling during a pandemic. The dueling crises we face require a bold agenda for economic recovery, job creation that prioritizes public health and safety, and environmental justice. For example, by ramping up job creation in oil well remediation, the state could solve the problem of cleaning up toxic pollution and creating good jobs for laid off oil workers at the same time. We must build back a better, brighter future. By investing in job creation programs that speed up our transition off fossil fuels, Governor Newsom can make California more resilient for future crises and support working families with good union jobs and strong pathways to long-term careers.”
– Caroline Henderson, Senior Climate Campaigner at Greenpeace USA.


Budgets are moral statements: what you value, you fund. While this budget begins to move in the right direction by increasing funding for the oversight of CalGEM, it falls far short of what is needed. For the 2020-2021 budget, Governor Newsom proposed $24.3 million to fund 128 new positions. In the  2021-2022 draft budget, he proposes to drop this by 80%, down to $4.8 million to fund 26 new positions. This is woefully inadequate. We mothers insist that this budget center the health, safety, and lives of California’s frontline communities and children by investing in greater oversight of oil and gas production and by ramping up oil well remediation. We ask the Governor to put our money where his mouth is: prioritizing health and climate safety by initiating a just and rapid transition from health-destroying and climate-destabilizing fossil fuel production to clean, renewable energy and oil-well remediation jobs that will help sustain livelihoods, clean up dangerous toxins, and preserve a livable climate for all Californians.”

– Linda Hutchins-Knowles, California Senior Organizer, Mothers Out Front


“Gov. Newsom’s budget offers a small fraction of what state oil and gas regulators need to hold polluters accountable. If he’s serious about climate justice and addressing the root causes of climate change, Gov. Newsom needs to stop giving his fossil-fuel friends new permits and hold them accountable for their dirty well cleanup.” 

– Hollin Kretzmann, attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute


Governor Newsom shut down California’s 3 trillion dollar economy to ensure the safety of the general population from COVID. But now, Harvard tells us that the kind of toxic pollution from oil drilling—that Governor Newsom has refused to limit and which is already poisoning predominantly black and latino drilling communities—is ‘largely increasing the number of COVID deaths’. So the question is, in Gavin Newsom’s predominantly white, French Laundry world, does he consider all COVID deaths equal? Because while it’s encouraging that he’s allocated money so CalGEM can employ more than just oil industry shills in today’s announced budget, his actual policy shows that his #FrenchLaundryValues are alive and well.”

David Braun, Rootskeeper  



Last Chance Alliance is an alliance of more than 750 public health, environmental justice, climate, and labor organizations united to urge Governor Gavin Newsom to end fossil fuel extraction across California and build a just climate future where every community can thrive.