FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Saturday, May 14, 2016
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Hundreds of Californians Rallied in Downtown Los Angeles To Call upon Mayor Garcetti, Local Elected Officials to Break Free From Fossil Fuels
L.A. Event Is One Of Two Dozen Mass Protests Happening Around The Globe
LOS ANGELES – Hundreds of Californians marched through Downtown Los Angeles Saturday to call upon Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and local elected leaders to break free from fossil fuels and accelerate the transition to 100 percent renewable energy in the city and throughout the state. Los Angeles is currently one of the few places in the world with an active oil field under the city.
Demonstrators came from across Los Angeles, including Porter Ranch residents who were evacuated from their homes due the massive gas leak, families from South Bay who were forced to leave their homes following the ExxonMobil refinery explosion, residents from South Los Angeles who live near active oil drilling sites, and those from Inglewood where the oil field has been operational since 1924.
“We are marching in Los Angeles because the city is ground zero for neighborhood oil drilling. Fossil fuel extraction is happening in our backyards. Communities live next door to active oil drilling sites, exposing children and families to various health risks like headaches, nosebleeds and respiratory problems including asthma,” said Monic Uriarte, a community organizer at Esperanza Community Housing Corp. “We are marching because this is an injustice not only to our climate, but to communities in Los Angeles and throughout the state of California, which disproportionally are low-income and communities of color.”
As part of the global Break Free from Fossil Fuels movement, Los Angeles’ “March to Break Free from Fossil Fuels: Our Health, Our Communities, Our Climate” was one of dozens of mass actions happening across six continents to keep fossil fuels in the ground and transition to renewable energy. In Los Angeles, marchers called upon elected officials to shut down the Aliso Canyon gas storage facility near Porter Ranch and end urban oil drilling.
Protests occurred in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Indonesia, Nigeria, New Zealand, Philippines, South Africa, Turkey, United Kingdom, and throughout the United States from May 4 through May 15. The mobilizations seek to shift political power away from the fossil fuel industry and to grassroots groups who are at the front lines of the health impacts of neighborhood drilling.
The colorful march started at City Hall, which included banners and posters from members of impacted communities and an intricate art build to express the importance of banning fracking and neighborhood oil drilling in the city. There were speakers from impacted communities, unions, community organizations and local government, who urged elected officials to break free from fossil fuel and end neighborhood oil drilling once and for all. The rally also featured performances by Grammy-nominated singer and actress Antonique Smith and LA Hip Hop Group Inner City Dwellers. The march looped up to the Los Angeles County building and ended at SoCal Gas’ corporate offices.
“Today was a reminder that Los Angeles has a long way to go in the fight against climate change. Neighborhood drilling continues to harm the children and families of this city. Ninety-one percent of the people living around L.A.’s oil drilling sites are people of color. And while they get sicker and sicker, the city’s leaders fail to prioritize their health and safety with common-sense policies that could end oil drilling in our local communities,” said Smith, who performed during the rally on Saturday. “I hope today’s march was a meaningful first step towards creating a healthy city for every Angeleno.”
In the Los Angeles Basin alone, more than 1.67 million Californians live within a mile of an active oil well. The fossil fuel industry continues to grow in California, developing and implementing dangerous drilling techniques and dirtier extraction practices that hurt the environment and the health of all Californians. Farmers in Kern County are now using oil waste water to grow the crops consumed around the world. As recently as February, the Porter Ranch community was put into a state of emergency when a gas leak released more than 1.6 million pounds of methane each day, equivalent to the methane emissions of six coal fired power plants, 2.2 million cows per day, or 4.5 million cars.
“Our elected leaders are failing to protect us. By allowing neighborhood drilling to occur in communities throughout California, they are putting the profits of the fossil fuel industry before public safety. We need Mayor Garcetti, Governor Brown and our local elected officials to start doing their jobs and serve the best interest of Californian families and the climate,” said Walker Foley, a Southern California organizer at Food & Water Watch. “Look around, Californians across the state are here because everyone is facing local climate crises that were caused by our addiction to fossil fuels.”
“California’s done good things on climate–but the world needs great things, especially a bold commitment to keep fossil fuels in the ground, California’s extraction affects the climate–and the vulnerable communities that live nearby,” said Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org, an international climate campaign that works in 188 countries around the world. “It’s time for it to stop.”
To follow Break Free online use #BreakFreeLA and to learn more visit https://la.breakfree2016.org/.