SACRAMENTO, CA — Today, groups with Last Chance Alliance held a rally outside Governor Newsom’s State of the State address to highlight the environmental and public health threats posed by California’s oil industry. Activists and community members living on the frontlines of oil production held banners and chanted their demands to underscore the urgency of the climate crisis and its direct impact on millions of Californians living dangerously close to fossil fuel extraction. The Governor failed to address California’s climate crisis or the impacts of the fossil fuel industry on low-income communities and communities of color during his address.

Last Chance Alliance launched last year demanding that Governor Newsom halt the development of all new dirty fuel projects in California, create a plan to phase out all fossil fuel extraction as quickly as possible, and provide support and opportunities for those most impacted by the transition. The Alliance is comprised of more than 700 environmental, health, justice, faith, labor, community, parent, and consumer organizations, including California’s youth and celebrities, who have joined them in their call on Governor Newsom.

Last night, the groups projected images depicting California’s massive fossil fuel infrastructure, frontline activists working to stop the expansion of fossil fuel projects, and art created by frontline youth onto the exterior of the west side of the Capitol building.

Photos of projection:

Photos of rally:–hBNFo0uEsRVh_wYFOrK-0UP9

Despite his aspiration to be a global climate leader, Governor Newsom continues to steward one of the nation’s largest oil-producing states. Oil produced in California is some of the most climate-damaging crude in the world, and a recent analysis confirmed that continued fossil fuel development is throwing California off track for meeting its own climate goals, as well as those enshrined in the Paris Agreement.

In addition to the climate harms of California’s dirty fuel extraction, many California oil fields operate next to homes and schools, releasing toxic air pollutants that cause cancer, asthma, and other health problems. Drilling occurs disproportionately in low-income communities and communities of color who already suffer from some of the worst air quality in the nation. Nearly five and a half million Californians live within one mile of an oil or gas well, and of those, one-third live in areas with the highest levels of pollution in the state. California is the only major oil-producing state without mandated setback limits (or buffer zones) to protect communities from the health impacts of fossil-fuel production.

Last year, groups with Last Chance Alliance revealed that fracking permits significantly increased within the first few months of Newsom’s administration and reported multiple financial conflicts of interest within the state agency charged with regulating California’s oil and gas industry. Regulators were also caught using “dummy” files to allow fossil fuel companies to avoid review and continue risky projects without oversight, confirming what frontline communities have long warned about: the state supports fossil fuel companies at the expense of Californians.

The Governor’s State of the State address comes just one day after California’s Department of Conservation kicked off a series of public hearings in Kern County, the heart of the state’s oil industry, as the agency attempts to update public health and safety protections for communities near oil and gas production operations. 75 community members and climate justice activists packed last night’s workshop in Arvin to share their firsthand experience facing health and safety threats from California’s oil industry. The next workshop is happening tonight in Bakersfield.

“Between dangerous and deadly pollution and runaway climate change, our dependence on fossil fuels puts our very survival in question. Now is time for California to finally live up to its green reputation,” said Nicole Ghio, senior fossil fuels program manager at Friends of the Earth. “We demand that Governor Newsom lead the climate fight. California must move to phase out fossil fuels and enact a just transition in line with what science and justice require.”

“It’s obvious that we can’t fight the climate crisis and expand fossil fuel use at the same time. While Governor Newsom has taken some compelling first steps towards a greener future, he must do more to phase out fossil fuel production in California, while at the same time, protecting public health and building a just and equitable transition for workers and communities,” said Caroline Henderson, Senior Climate Campaigner at Greenpeace USA. “We are watching Governor Newsom — he needs to live up to his responsibilities as California’s leader.”

“The same fossil fuels that are fueling the climate crisis are fueling the cancer crisis,” said Rebecca Saltzman, Deputy Director of Breast Cancer Action. “Many of the toxic chemicals used in fossil fuel production have been linked to acute and long-term health harms, including breast cancer, putting frontline communities and workers at highest risk. It is time for Governor Newsom to be a leader by phasing out fossil fuel production, for the health of our communities and our planet.”

“Parents around the state are appalled that California allows fossil-fuel production right next door to where our children live, study and play–prioritizing fossil-fuel profits over the health of our children and communities,” said Linda Hutchins-Knowles, Senior California Organizer for Mothers Out Front. “It’s time for the Governor to do all in his power to advance environmental justice and bold climate action. We want him to respond urgently to the climate and public-health emergency: STOP issuing new permits for fossil-fuel projects, DROP existing oil and gas production with a just transition to clean-energy, family-sustaining jobs, and ROLL OUT a 2500’ health-protective buffer zone between oil and gas operations and sensitive sites like homes, schools, and daycares. Our children are counting on you to protect them.”

“From fires to floods, to oil spills and cancer – California has felt the devastating impacts of the climate crisis and an outdated energy system firsthand.” said Matt Leonard from the global climate change campaign “Governor Newsom fully understands that communities and scientists agree that we need to rapidly transition off of fossil fuels – and we call on him to join New York and other communities who have stood up to Big Oil.”

“As nurses in the Central Valley and other parts of California, we will continue to comfort parents, as we concurrently address their children’s fight for their breaths during an asthma attack,” Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments said in a statement. “We will continue to evacuate hospitals while flames race us down. And we will continue to help address the health and mental health issues that are generated from living without potable water because it has been diverted to the oil fields. But we also firmly believe that we must address the most significant causes of these problems which is our toxic reliance on fossil fuels. We must start with a no new drilling policy and quickly accelerate our path to independence from fossil fuels. We must stop fueling our health crisis.”

“Today’s State of the State address is an opportunity to make clear that the Newsom Administration will not wrap itself around fossil fuel polluting billionaires — representing an industry that profits from human suffering and ecological destruction,” said Matt Nelson, Executive Director of the nation’s largest online Latinx organizing group, “Our members appreciate Governor Newsom’s stated intentions to work as a leader to address the dearth and presence of California’s climate crisis, and the harm caused by fossil fuel extraction. We urge the governor to refuse to be the Novocaine that seeks to numb the public while the state continues to drill.”

“California’s future is bleak unless Governor Newsom takes action to stop the expansion of the fossil fuel industry in California. In the face of catastrophic climate change, we ask him to consider the future he leaves to his own children and urge the Governor to stop issuing new oil and gas permits immediately,” said Alexandra Nagy, California Director of Food & Water Action. “We ask Governor Newsom to give all families a fighting chance in the face of climate change by committing to the phase out of oil and gas drilling and a fair and just transition off fossil fuels for workers and communities. This is what real climate leadership demands.”

“California’s youth have no time for a governor that promises to fight climate change one day, and then turns around and supports fossil fuel extraction the next,” says Kobi Naseck, Sunrise Movement Bay Area. “The situation is too dire to keep following business as usual — and we know that a just transition away from fossil fuels and towards clean energy, good union jobs, and community rehabilitation is possible with the right bold leadership. We are calling on Governor Newsom to phase out fossil fuel extraction in California and lead the way toward a just transition immediately.”