March 9, 2022

Collin Rees,
Aimee Dewing,

Last Chance Alliance: Gov. Newsom’s State of the State featured strong statements on climate, but was short on action

SACRAMENTO, CA — Yesterday Gov. Gavin Newsom delivered his annual state of the state address at the Department of Natural Resources, home to the agency that regulates the state’s oil drilling. During his speech he linked ongoing drilling to drought and climate-driven wildfires gripping the state. He once again emphasized the need to reduce the supply of California’s oil, alongside demand, but stopped short of announcing any new policies to accelerate the phase out timeline.

In 2021, Governor Newsom took many noteworthy steps to move California beyond oil including announcing a 2045 phaseout goal, a ban on new fracking, and a draft rule to prevent new neighborhood drilling. He’s also been vocal about the need to make fossil fuels “part of our past.” His 2022-23 proposed budget commits to a vision of an “oil-free future” but falls short on investments in supply-side policies to phase out oil extraction. 

Climate, health, and environmental justice organizations with Last Chance Alliance have been advocating for an end to the state’s dangerous and dirty fossil fuel extraction since Gov. Newsom took office and they issued the following statements in response to his state of the state address: 

“Governor Newsom’s strong words on fighting polluters were welcome, but what the communities of California desperately need are actions to back them up. The governor can act immediately to ban new oil and gas permits, and expand the health and safety buffer zones announced last year to include existing wells,” said Collin Rees, U.S. Program Manager at Oil Change International. “The ‘California Way’ means protecting vulnerable communities and being a national leader in confronting climate chaos. Newsom has a huge chance to do both, but it will require bold action and follow-through, not just nice words.”

“Governor Newsom’s climate and drought policies are deeply flawed and his State of the State address reflects that,” said Food & Water Watch’s California Director Alexandra Nagy. “Oil drilling permits are declining but not gone, and that is not good enough to address the climate crisis. Every new oil and gas permit that Newsom’s administration grants is a step backward for California’s climate and communities who lack clean water and a healthy environment. If Newsom truly wants to take up the mantle of climate leadership, he needs to stop issuing new oil and gas permits right away and ensure an equitable transition to renewable energy.”

“California has fallen behind on climate action because oil and gas interests have a stranglehold in Sacramento,” said The Climate Center CEO Ellie Cohen. “For Governor Newsom to restore California’s global climate leadership, he and the entire legislature need to consistently listen to people over fossil fuel lobbyists. We urge Governor Newsom to use his executive powers to halt all new oil and gas infrastructure permits and invest in a just transition for impacted workers and communities. We also hope he will see through greenwashed oil and gas industry PR spin and reject false solutions that lock in more fossil fuel pollution. Pursuing proven, equitable climate solutions today will save countless lives and dollars down the line.”

“Don’t be fooled — while tonight, Newsom sounded like the climate leader we need, even saying that we need to be ‘fighting polluters and not bolstering them,’ he is dragging his feet on urgent, crucial solutions,” said Greenpeace USA Senior Climate Campaigner Dr. Amy Moas. “The necessity to move beyond oil and gas is all too real for the millions of Californians breathing toxic pollution, bracing for another year of historic wildfires, and struggling to imagine a future that is safe for generations to come. Governor Newsom can make 2022 the year he finally sprints towards climate action — by ending neighborhood drilling and fossil fuel expansion, and investing in communities and workers at the forefront of the transition to a clean energy economy. That’s the real ‘California way.'” 

“With respect for the work the Governor has achieved in our race to save humanity from climate crisis calamities — it’s not enough. Only he has the power with the stroke of a pen to take bolder action that would achieve the goals EOPA California has outlined. To that end over 430 elected officials, representing more than half of Californians, have signed our letter urging immediate action for him to stop issuing new fossil fuel permits, phase out fossil fuels, and institute 2,500-foot buffers between existing drill operations and community sites, while ensuring a just transition for workers in the fossil fuel industries as the state transitions to 100 percent clean energy,” said Christian Brock, Chief Executive Officers of Elected Officials to Protect America and an Air Force veteran. “We appreciate that the Governor has taken steps in these areas, but they are invisible actions for every Californian who breathes deadly toxins daily, and will not be enough to meet the challenge the world faces. The magnitude of the global climate crisis demands action at the same scale. That’s the California way.”

“In Governor Newsom’s state of the state address he emphasized that we are now going to ’extract new ideas’. That sounds considerably healthier for Californians than extracting oil,” said Barbara Sattler, Leadership Council Member of California Nurses for Environmental Health and Justice. “While he is committed to ‘carbon-free engines’ — the demand side of our fossil fuel economy — he must also be committed to eliminating the supply side and stop issuing any new permits for oil extraction. Now that would be a healthy new idea.”

“Gov. Newsom rightly focused on today’s stark threats to democracy, equality and a livable planet,” said Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute. “Californians want transformative leadership that addresses a key root cause of all these threats: fossil fuels. Newsom needs to follow his good speech with bold actions: 100% zero-emission vehicle sales by 2030, an end to new oil and gas drilling, and a health buffer between existing oil and gas sites and places people live, work and play.”