June 28–BENICIA — Mayor Elizabeth Patterson spoke about the future of California’s fossil fuel production in Sacramento on Tuesday, calling for a “phase out” of gas and oil production here.
Patterson, along with Vice Mayor Steve Young and county Supervisor Monica Brown, is part of a group in the state known as the Elected Officials To Protect America. The group issued a letter on June 26 urging Governor Jerry Brown to “end issuing of permits for new fossil fuel projects, institute a 2,500-foot public health setback for oil and gas facilities, and commit the state to 100 percent renewable energy.”
“We see our addiction to fossil fuels encouraged, promoted, and hyped by the industry,” Patterson told the crowd in Sacramento. “Instead of paying the fossil fuel drug lord, let’s pay for rehab.”
Though Patterson didn’t directly call out the Valero Refinery, Benicia’s largest employer and taxpayer, the oil giant responded to the Times-Herald by referring to a statement from the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA).
“There’s an unhelpful belief that is being pushed by some that the environment, public health, economic prosperity, and the petroleum industry have to be enemies,” read the statement. “It’s imperative to reject any policy or course of action that damages our shared future by putting arbitrary or one-sided restrictions on oil and gas companies.”
Patterson had spearheaded a campaign over the last year to pass an Industrial Safety Ordinance (ISO) which she argued would offer more oversight of the Valero Refinery, but the idea was shot down for now during last week’s city council meeting. However, if Valero doesn’t erect fenceline monitoring by November, then the I.S.O. will be drafted, the council concluded.
So far, the Elected Officials To Protect America have not proffered a timeline for the changes they’d like to see enacted, but a campaign undertaken by several groups known as “Brown’s Last Chance” has demanded that the governor start acting soon. “If Gov. Brown does not act, he will lose those groups’ support for his Global Climate Action Summit in September,” said Phillip Vander Klay of the Elected Officials to Protect California.
Patterson could not be reached for follow-up questions by press time.
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