While I believe Senator Dianne Feinstein’s West Coast Ocean Protection Act is a big step forward for California, I’m still wary of President Biden’s ability to cut down such a lucrative and politically motivated industry as oil and gas drilling. Sure, the moratorium on drilling shows that climate change is on the top of his agenda, but it’s important to remember that this is simply a pause on new drilling permits on federal land. The moratorium does nothing about projects that are currently in action, nor does it address any drilling on state-regulated private lands.
I also think it’s important to keep in mind that nearly 5.5 million Californians now live within a mile of an oil or gas well, including nearly 4 million who are people of color. I hope that President Biden keeps in mind that this extreme disparity exists and that policy measures on the federal level need to be enacted to ensure that people of color stop being poisoned by the toxins that come with these facilities.
One solution could be instituting a 2,500-foot public protection barrier between drilling sites and public areas. This is what CALPIRG, a statewide, student-led, and student-funded public interest group, is currently fighting for.
We all know where the right direction is. My peers and I think it’s time we start actually start heading there.