Late Friday afternoon, the Newsom administration quietly issued six new fracking permits to Aera Energy (owned by Shell and Exxon), bringing the total of approvals since April to 54.
As a candidate, Governor Newsom promised to oppose fracking. During our recent wildfires, he took to the national stage to declare that climate change is real. Yet he continues to allow free rein to fossil fuel companies — who have spread climate denial for decades and whose product is fueling the fires — by issuing more than 1,700 new oil permits and dozens of fracking permits in 2020 alone.
California is one of the largest oil-producing states in the nation. More than five million of us live less than a mile from an active oil well. Evidence links exposure to toxins from drilling to asthma, lung and heart disease, birth defects, cancer, and more. We are the only major oil-producing state that has no regulations regarding the proximity of oil and gas infrastructure to communities.
In Santa Barbara County, as elsewhere, this affects mostly people of color and low-income groups, many of whom live within 2,500 feet of oil drilling and who are already at higher risk from COVID-19. Permitting drilling in these communities upholds the racist systems Newsom claims to oppose. Moreover, Newsom could save us another battle with Big Oil locally if he simply stopped approving permits.
Tell Newsom: It’s time to stop issuing fossil fuel permits, drop existing oil production through a just transition, and roll out 2,500-foot health and safety buffer zones between oil drilling and the places where we live, work and play. Sign the petition here.