FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, May 5, 2016
Sit-in at California Capitol to Protest Oil Drilling in Central Valley
Farmers and Activists Call Out Governor Brown on Fracking as Part of Global Break Free Action
SACRAMENTO, CA – Three protesters from Kern County took part in a sit-in outside of Governor Brown’s offices in the Capitol as part of Break Free, a global wave of actions to keep fossil fuels in the ground. Farmers, nurses, and environmental justice activists alike traveled from California’s Central Valley to participate in this peaceful protest.
Around thirty residents from Kern County joined in solidarity and prayer, invoking the revolutionary spirit of Cinco De Mayo. The action targeted Governor Brown, who has denied numerous requests to visit the Central Valley and address the mostly Latino and farmworker communities dealing with the health impacts of oil and gas drilling (including hydraulic fracturing).
“Governor Brown wants the world to think he is a ‘climate leader,’ but here in California we know that’s not the whole story,” said Juan Flores, a Kern County community leader protesting at the Capitol. “Here in my town of Shafter, fracking is contaminating our water, our food, and our kids’ hopes for a healthy future. Governor Brown has the authority to ban dangerous drilling and protect our communities – but so far, he’s refused to act for the people he represents.”
“Governor Brown has been invited to the Valley to see the impacts of the oil industry numerous times. He needs to understand the devastating human impacts of extraction and meet this critical moment with action. His job is not to serve the oil industry, his job is to serve the people of the Central Valley and all Californians,” said Lupe Martinez, a former UFW leader who also participated in civil disobediences to pressure Governor Brown to sign the Agricultural Labor Relations Act in 1975.
Rebecca Kaplan, Councilmember At-Large of Oakland said, “I’m proud today to be in solidarity with the important coalition taking action to end fracking. We have learned from recent scientific reports, that climate change is happening faster and worse than previously believed. We must end fracking in California. For the sake of the health of the community and for the livable future.”
A similar protest will take place in Los Angeles on May 14. Residents from South L.A. are marching to demand that the state’s elected leaders put an end to neighborhood drilling and the oil and gas extraction threatening California’s health, communities, and climate.
“California represents itself to the world as a shining example of climate leadership, all the while we’re the third largest oil producing state in the U.S.,” said Linda Capato Jr., Fracking Campaign Coordinator at 350.org. “The actions here in California and around the globe are meant to signal that the era of fossil fuels must come to an end.”
Fracking is booming in California’s low income, rural communities, who are already overburdened by poor air and water quality issues. Residents from Kern and Los Angeles counties are calling out dangerous extraction techniques that impact our water sources and climate, and Governor Brown’s lack of leadership on these climate and health issues. The Governor’s support for the oil industry and these dangerous extraction techniques are indicative of where he really stands on climate change and the communities on the frontlines.
California has all the creativity, technology and desire to lead the world into the future and embrace 100% clean energy. All we need now is a commitment from our leaders to achieve this goal.
Followers voiced their support on social media [#StandwithKern and #BreakFree2016] calling on California’s elected leaders to join in breaking free from fossil fuels, or else remain bound to the wrong side of history.
About Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment
Founded in 1989, the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment (CRPE) is an environmental justice organization that uses collective action and the law to support communities of color that bear the brunt of environmental hazards. With offices in California located in Delano and Oakland, CRPE represents communities and works directly with them to achieve their goals. For more on CRPE, go to www.crpe-ej.org.
350.org is building a global climate movement. Our online campaigns, grassroots organizing, and mass public actions are coordinated by a global network active in over 188 countries.