Newsom Declares “Oil-Free Future” But Proposed Budget Doesn’t Address Extraction

Sacramento, CA– Today, Gov. Gavin Newsom released a proposed 2022-23 state budget that commits billions to fight what he calls the “existential” effects of a warming climate including wildfires, extreme heat and drought. He once again committed to his vision of an “oil-free future” for the state and noted that addressing climate change includes dealing with emissions from in-state oil extraction. Despite his strong statements, the proposed budget falls short on investments in supply-side policies to phase out oil extraction–a root cause of climate change. 

California is one of the nation’s leading oil producers with industrial operations taking place just feet away from neighborhoods throughout the state. California oil is more carbon-intensive than Canada’s tar sands, and yet the state has been slow to undo the oil industry’s influence over the state. Just last month, communities living on the frontlines of oil drilling led a robust public comment period for a proposed rule that would ban new oil drilling in neighborhoods. Over 60,000 comments were submitted to CA’s Department of Conservation with calls to strengthen a proposed 3,200-ft. setback separating new oil wells and sensitive receptors like homes and schools.  After a decade of delays by the state’s oil regulator CalGEM, an agency with a history of financial ties to the oil industry, Newsom’s administration seems to think it’s forging its way toward an oil-free future. But, progress is not fast enough for those who are disproportionately impacted by fossil fuel pollution, like low income communities and communities of color. 

In response to today’s budget release, members of Last Chance Alliance have issued the following quotes:

“Newsom’s proposed budget shows us what we’ve known for years – the money for climate justice is there, all we’re missing is the political will,” said VISION Coalition Coordinator Kobi Naseck “Right now, frontline communities are demanding relief from harmful neighborhood oil and gas drilling and the horrible climate changing consequences of that extraction, but it’s unclear how much of Newsom’s budget will actually contribute to a managed decline. We deserve changes that will make a difference in the daily lives of working Californians.”

“Newsom’s proposed budget fails. It lacks a comprehensive investment plan for ending fossil fuels and factory farms, two major sources of greenhouse gas emissions,” said Food & Water Watch California Director Alexandra Nagy. “Instead, Newsom includes funds for technologies that prop up these industries, like green hydrogen, factory farm manure digesters and carbon capture. Too many Californians lack access to fresh water and suffer from climate change induced disasters like wildfires. Newsom has allocated $2.7 billion for wildfire mitigation and $6 billion for drought support, but he neglects the root cause of these disasters: climate change hastened by fossil fuel emissions.”

“2021 made crystal clear that no Californian is untouched by the climate crisis,” said Greenpeace Senior Climate Campaigner Caroline Henderson. “While Governor Newsom has verbally committed California to a future beyond fossil fuels, his 2022 budget proposal does little to wind down the oil and gas extraction that continues to fuel climate chaos. Governor Newsom must use all the tools at his disposal to move California swiftly toward a fossil free future and increase funding to fully support workers and communities.” 

“Plugging oil and gas wells is an important part of protecting frontline communities and the climate and embarking on a just transition, but Newsom should be forcing the oil companies to pay for cleanup, not taxpayers,” said Center for Biological Diversity Senior Attorney Hollin Kretzmann. “This budget should not be used as an excuse to bail out the oil industry. And Newsom should stop approving new wells that will only add to the problem.”

“We applaud Governor Newsom for proposing $22.5 billion to invest in climate programs over the next five years,” said The Climate Center CEO Ellie Cohen. “We commend the governor’s emphasis on prioritizing vulnerable communities that suffer the most from air pollution, extreme heat, and power outages. However, it’s clear that much more is needed to advance solutions at the speed and scale science demands. California’s own elected officials have admitted we’ve fallen behind the rest of the world in addressing climate pollution. It’s time to invest in clean, resilient, locally-developed energy resources that will speed the transition off fossil fuels. Doing so today will save countless lives and dollars down the line.”

“The budget has a disconnect between funding for displaced oil and gas workers and the actual phasing out of oil production, which is a state goal (p 7). The budget has no funding related to phasing out extraction of oil in California other than plugging of abandoned wells. The Governor must push faster to end extraction and refining of petrochemicals in California,” said Clair Brown, 350 Bay Area Action.