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09 • 23 • 2020

California Governor Gavin Newsom Orders Shift From Fossil Fuels

By jsavage

The global climate crisis continues to wreak havoc on our ocean and coasts. Marine heat waves and ocean acidification are killing our kelp and coral, and producing algae blooms that harm ocean wildlife, sicken swimmers and surfers, and close down our beaches. Sea level rise is already flooding vulnerable coastal communities on a regular basis and is likely to wipe out 70 percent of Southern California’s beaches by 2100, destroy 87 percent of our surf breaks and take an unfathomable toll on our $44 billion coastal economy. For all these reasons and more, Surfrider Foundation has demanded that our leaders take climate change action now

Today, California Governor Gavin Newsom did just that – took action – by signing an ambitious Executive Order designed to quickly move the state forward in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and leading California toward its mandate of being carbon neutral by 2045. The EO calls for:

  • California Air Resources Board to develop regulations to mandate that 100 percent of in-state sales of new passenger cars and trucks are zero-emission by 2035;
  • Clear deliverables for new health and safety regulations that protect workers and communities from the impacts of oil extraction;
  • Support for companies who transition their upstream and downstream oil production operations to cleaner alternatives;
  • Directs the state to make sure taxpayers are not stuck with the bill to safely close and remediate former oil fields;
  • The Legislature to end the issuance of new hydraulic fracturing permits by 2024.

California's reliance on gasoline- and diesel-fueled cars as the prime mode of transportation has long been our largest contribution to the climate crisis. Every step to reduce dependence on fossil fuels is one in the right direction.

As staunch supporters of AB 345, we were greatly disappointed by the failure of our legislature to pass this important bill that would have created buffer zones around oil and gas production facilities in order to protect the 5.4 million Californians living within a mile of such facilities from the ongoing adverse health impacts. We hope to see Governor Newsom’s directive begin – finally – to shield our most economically disadvantaged communities from the harm of oil and gas extraction.

Just as we believe oil companies – not the taxpayers – should shoulder the costs of decommissioning offshore oil drilling platforms, we strongly maintain that neither should the public be stuck paying for the closure and remediation of oil fields on land.

Surfrider has fought against the destructive practice of on- and offshore hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) for years and called on Governor Newsom to protect our state from the Trump Administration’s efforts to open up federal lands to new fracking and oil drilling. We’ve also called out how fracking supports the plastic industry and noted the connection to systemic racism embedded in fracking, plastics and oil production. While we would have preferred to see the Governor go further with a commitment to stopping new oil and gas drilling, and reducing that which currently exists, we nonetheless see his direction to the Legislature as promising.

Overall, the Executive Order is an apt first step to a crisis currently making itself known by burning a huge percentage of our state, blanketing the West Coast in wildfire smoke and threatening to remake our coastline in heartbreaking ways. We can no longer delay decisive actions. California is not only regarded as a worldwide leader on environmental protections, but as the world’s fifth largest economy, has the potential to profoundly affect global decisions.

Let today be remembered as the first of many bold steps California took toward saving our planet.