Sacramento, CA – Last Friday, Governor Newsom sent a letter to the California Air Resources Board that acknowledged the limited ambition of their scoping plan for a carbon neutral economy by 2045. Referencing California’s drought, wildfires and extreme heat that have “become everyday realities,” the letter calls for bolder and faster action on climate but falls short of taking concrete actions to phase out in-state fossil fuel production while promoting dead-end carbon capture technology that allows the fossil fuel industry to maintain business as usual in the state. Climate justice advocates sharply criticized key policy proposals in the letter including:


  • Formation of a Methane Task Force despite the fact that many frontline communities are already reporting adverse health effects associated with methane exposure and state agencies have failed to use the power they already wield to investigate leaks, enforce regulations and protect their health and safety. Moreover, frontline communities have already waited three years for public health protections from living near oil wells but CalGEM continues to drag its feet in the rulemaking process.
  • Carbon Removal Technologies that are promoted by the fossil fuel industry to divert billions of dollars of public funds to further entrench existing industry infrastructure and to keep pumping and polluting, continuing to harm California’s frontline communities. 
  • Pumping the Brakes and the Accelerator by directing state agencies to avoid new natural gas plants in long-term planning while simultaneously promoting fossil fuel industry scams like biofuels and hydrogen, signing a budget that promotes short-term reliance on fossil fuels, and extending the life of the last nuclear power plant in the state.
  • Missing the Mark on Expedited Timelines toward California’s 2030 target, while staying silent on a timeline for phasing out fossil fuels. In April 2021, Governor Newsom directed CARB to consider a 2045 phaseout of in-state oil production, a timeline which is far too slow for what science and justice demand.  

In response, organizations with Last Chance Alliance issued the following responses:

“This letter throws a bone to frontline communities, in a clear effort to appease the powerful fossil fuel lobby. If Newsom actually wanted to create the transition that scientists state we need, we must shut down fossil fuel production in the state in the next decade. The scoping plan and this letter are not giving any indication to turn off the tap of toxic climate pollution,” said Matt Leonard, Director of Oil and Gas Action Network. 

“Governor Newsom is right that California must lead on climate action. But if Newsom is trying to drive California toward a fossil free future, right now he has one foot on the gas and one foot on the brake. So long as he caves to fossil fuel lobbyists and keeps approving new permits to drill for oil near homes and schools, California is only accelerating a climate and public health emergency. Big Oil is ripping off Californians at the pump while burning down our state. We can’t afford to wait till 2045 to stop fueling the flames. We need to pump the brakes on fossil fuels, and fast,” said Caroline Henderson, California Climate Project Lead at Greenpeace USA

“I was struck by the courage and resolve of the young activists who briefly took control of the California Air Resources Board’s most recent public hearing to demand bold climate action,” said Let’s Green CA! Public Affairs Director Heidi Harmon. “Governor Newsom’s letter shows that he heard their voices. However, our kids need more than promises. Today, I’m calling on Governor Newsom to summon the political courage he showed when choosing to marry LGBTQ couples in San Francisco. We’re calling on him to turn his rhetoric into action.”

“Climate change is a public health emergency that demands bold and immediate action. Engineered carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) is risky, exposes frontline communities to health harms, and leads to poor air quality in already polluted communities. The idea that these public health hazards could be regulated is not rooted in real life experiences of our frontline communities who live with regulatory failures everyday,” said Physicians for Social Responsibility Board Member, Dr Marjaneh Moini. “CCS, as currently practiced, releases more carbon dioxide than it removes. By supporting CCS, Governor Newsom again fails to prioritize public health and front line communities, and paves the way for massive subsidies to polluting industries. We call on Governor Newsom to support a climate action plan centered on health equity and community based solutions like rooftop solar with storage and regenerative agriculture to build a resilient future for California.”

“Governor Newsom takes one step forward and two steps back with this letter. Investments in clean energy and community resilience are absolutely critical to California’s future, but industrial carbon capture threatens any progress we make. Carbon capture is a favorite solution of the fossil fuel industry because it gives them license to keep business as usual,” said Mark Schlosberg, Acting California Director at Food & Water Watch. “If Newsom really wants to ‘meet the moment’ of the climate crisis and exert California’s national climate leadership, he must instruct CARB to reject all false solutions like carbon capture and phase out fossil fuels by 2030. California and the nation need real climate leadership from Governor Newsom.