POLITICS

Gov. Newsom Pressured To Declare Climate Emergency In California

“The time for half-measures is long gone,” the leader of one environmental group wrote.

More than three dozen environmental groups sent a joint letter to California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Tuesday urging him to be bolder on environmental issues during his second year in office and declare a sweeping climate emergency. 

The letter was delivered on the first anniversary of Newsom taking office. It demanded, among other things, that he issue an immediate moratorium on new fossil fuel permits, ban fracking and produce a plan for a public utility company as part of that emergency declaration. 

“Governor Newsom has recognized the extreme threats that the climate crisis presents, and the question now is if he will do what science, and his constituents demand ― stop drilling for oil,” 350.org Special Projects Director Matt Leonard said in a statement about the letter. “The same way California catalyzed national shifts on gay marriage or marijuana ― this is Newsom’s opportunity to create a just transition to a clean-energy economy that protects workers, communities, and the climate.”

350.org is one of 37 signatories to the letter initiated by Food & Water Action.

The time for half-measures is long gone,” Food & Water Action state director Alexandra Nagy added. “Governor Newsom still has the opportunity to take courageous action before it’s too late.”

Newsom has acted or vowed to act on many of the issues addressed in Tuesday’s letter, albeit not as quickly as the signatories want. In November, he won praise from some for issuing a halt on the approval of any new fracking in California until the permits for those gas-extraction projects are reviewed by an independent panel of scientists.

The Center for Biological Diversity, which did not sign on to Tuesday’s letter, applauded the fracking decision as a major step. 

“This marks the turning of the tide against the oil industry, which has been allowed to drill at will in our state for more than 150 years,” Kassie Siegel, the director of the group’s Climate Law Institute, said at the time.

Tuesday’s letter was more critical of that announcement.

“Creating a different process for approving fracking permits is not the same as stopping them,” the groups wrote. 

But he move was in line with Newsom’s vision of phasing out fracking and other fossil fuel practices so that people who make their livelihoods in the industry ― especially those in poorer, rural counties ― are accounted for.

“Before we turn off the tap, what’s the plan to take care of the folks here?” Newsom told the Los Angeles Times while visiting California’s Kern County over the summer. “What’s the plan to take care of the workers? If you can’t look people in the eye and say you have an answer to that, then I think you’re doing a disservice to people in the community, and I can’t do that.”

You can read the entire letter here

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