Oil Money Out! Sunrise Movement leads demonstration to get fossil fuel money out of California Democratic politics
Activists from the youth-based Sunrise Movement throughout California will march from CalSTRS in West Sacramento to the State Capitol in Sacramento on Friday, Oct. 22 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m to demand that the California Democratic Party (CADEM) Executive Board vote to ban fossil fuel and law enforcement contributions to the Party.
By Dan Bacher
California politicians constantly portray the state as a “green” and “progressive” leader despite the fact that the state’s oil and gas regulatory agency, CalGEM, has approved over 9,000 new and reworked oil and gas wells since January 2019 and still doesn’t require health and safety setbacks around oil and gas wells like those other states mandate.
These pro fossil fuel policies continue because of Big Oil and Big Gas capture of regulators, ranging from Governor’s Office, to the Legislature, to the regulatory agencies, panels and commissions.
In fact, the California Democratic Party itself continues to take both fossil fuel and law enforcement money, according to a news advisory from the Sunrise Movement and the CADEM Progressive Caucus.
“Despite CADEM Committee recommendations rejecting both fossil fuel and law enforcement funding, the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party reveals that the Party took $330,000 in fossil fuel industry funding and over $380,000 in law enforcement funding during the 2020 election cycle,” according to the Caucus and Sunrise California. “The Party’s actions are an outright breach of transparency and public trust.”
The $330,000 in fossil fuel money was all from Sempra Energy, the parent company of SoCalGas, the corporation responsible for the massive natural gas blowout at the Aliso Canyon storage facility in October 2015.
Our message is clear: it’s time to kick out fossil fuel executives and police gangs from Democratic politics. (1/3) pic.twitter.com/oFPkv1LWc5
— Sunrise Bay Area 🌅 (@sunrisebayarea) October 9, 2021
Friday’s march precedes CADEM’s Sunday, Oct. 24 special meeting during which the board’s vote is scheduled. Members from Sacramento, Kern, Long Beach, Bay Area, Los Angeles, Orange County, Santa Barbara, San Diego, Claremont Colleges, and possibly other locations are expected to attend the action, the advisory stated.
Activists will gather at CalSTRS (100 Waterfront Pl, West Sacramento, CA 95605) by 11 a.m., then march across Tower Bridge and down M and L Streets to the West Steps of the State Capitol in Sacramento.
The march is coinciding and coordinated with the March for Stolen Lives and Futures.
The activists say that CADEM’s policies around its own fundraising, as well as statements about what fundraising sources are appropriate for individual politicians, “have the power to shape whose money influences political outcomes in the state of California.”
They point out that California politicians and the state’s Democratic Party profess to be leaders in climate policy. Yet even as the state experiences record climate change-driven heatwaves, drought, wildfires and massive fish kills on the Klamath River, Sacramento River and Butte Creek, activists say the state legislature has failed to pass meaningful climate legislation since 2018.
“Young people are tired of lip service from our so-called leaders when they continue to act as though we have no right to a future,” said Sunrise California Organizer Josiah Edwards in a statement. “We have the right to a just, livable future and more. If party leaders believe in that right, then they have a moral obligation to officially end the flow of fossil fuel and law enforcement money into the party’s coffers. Otherwise, they are more than complicit — they become willful accomplices who actively worked to bring an end to humanity’s last generation.”
“Police violence continues to terrorize our communities as the implementation of modest reforms moves slowly. Meanwhile, law enforcement budgets have grown locally and the state treats California Highway Patrol officers favorably compared to other state workers. Increases in resources for law enforcement are a loss for other public needs – including greenhouse gas reduction and climate adaptation,” according to Edwards.
“We have been fighting Party leadership since 2020 to get a permanent ban on fossil fuel and law enforcement money,” said Amar Shergill, CADEM Progressive Caucus Chair. “Now, with the help of Executive Board Members across the state we have forced a Special Meeting and a simple ‘up or down’ vote on getting rid of this dirty money. No more delay, no more compromises; it’s time to get this done.”
The action Friday follows an action on October 16 in Kern County. Local organizers with Sunrise Kern, a local hub of the national organization Sunrise Movement, and InTheField661, a local Bakersfield mutual aid group, gathered in front of the home of the Kern County Democratic Party Chair, Christian Romo, to demand that they vote to ban fossil fuel and cop money from the California Democratic Party at the Executive Board meeting on October 24.
Background: Regulators have approved 9,728 oil drilling permits since January 2019
Governor Newsom’s oil regulators have approved 9,728 oil and gas drilling permits since he assumed office in 2019, according to a new analysis of permits approved through October 1, 2021 and posted at www.NewsomWellWatch.org by Consumer Watchdog and FracTracker Alliance. The groups said Newsom “should immediately cease approval of more oil permits to avoid hitting the 10,000 mark.”
CalGEM has approved a total of 1,577 total permits in the first nine months of 2021, a 53% change from the number of permits issued in 2020. The agency approved 516 new well permits and 1,061 oil well rework permits in the first six months of this year.
The agency has issued a total of 150 reported permits issued for offshore wells since January 1, 2019 as of October 1, according to the two groups. Five of these permits were for new drilling and the remaining 145 for reworks (including sidetracks and deepening operations).
“Half of the total were issued for idle wells that should be plugged and properly abandoned to reduce the risk of blowouts, leaks, and other accidents. Over the first three quarters of 2021 there have been 17 offshore permits issued,” the groups stated.