UC Santa Barbara Associated Students Environmental Affairs Board rallied on April 8 at the Santa Barbara County Administration Building to call on Governor Gavin Newsom to end California’s dependency on oil, stop greenlighting new fossil fuel permits and phase out oil extraction in California.
The Santa Barbara County Action Network, Society of Fearless Grandmothers Santa Barbara, 350 Santa Barbara and Sunrise Movement Santa Barbara joined the A.S. Environmental Affairs Board (EAB) to support the lobbying effort coordinated by national climate advocacy group Last Chance Alliance. Similar events took place at 11 different cities across the state, including Sacramento, San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Students congregated at the UCSB North Hall Outbound bus loop at 11 a.m. with protest signage before commuting to Santa Barbara Downtown, where the rally was held.
The event had about 25 participants and a lineup of six speeches.
Kat Lane, a third-year environmental studies major and co-chair of EAB, addressed the crowd at the rally.
“We’re in a dire situation, and we need to take action to ensure that everyone can have an equitable future that serves them and that no one is continuing to struggle to survive underneath climate change or for any other reason,” Lane said. “We need an equitable, just future, and that includes having a livable planet.”
Grant Huebner, first-year political science major and EAB community affairs chair, critiqued Newson’s office for using pro-environmentalist rhetoric while approving oil drilling permits at the rally.
“Governor Newsom has a long track record of saying that he wants to be environmentally sustainable, that he wants to be an environmental leader … and yet he’s issuing so many oil permits,” Huebner said. “In fact, he actually issued the same amount of oil permits in his first three years as the previous Governor Jerry Brown.”
Third-year environmental studies major Alyssa Jain attended the rally as a member of Sunrise Movement Santa Barbara, a youth-led coalition dedicated to pursuing climate justice through political action.
“We are calling on Newsom to act now to ban all new fossil fuel drilling in California,” Jain said. “It is a huge social justice issue since a lot of those wells are located in your communities and your sensitive receptors. So hospitals, schools, churches, and a lot of them are located in primarily communities of color.”
“And all the while — while this drilling is going on — it is jeopardizing the health and well-being of those people, those places and ecosystems, so we’re really calling on [Newsom] now to protect our people in those communities,” she continued.
The event also included a station where participants could use chalk to write messages to the governor on the ground in front of the Santa Barbara County Courthouse. The idea proved popular, and passersby spectating the Last Chance Alliance rally participated in the activity.
“Not only did we write our own messages, but people walking past picked up chalk and started writing little things in front of the courthouse. And that was honestly a really unique thing,” Huebner said. “You get your voice heard by taking 30 seconds of your day to write a quick message, and it’s the thing that everyone else sees as well. And so it kind of brings more people in, in a fun and creative way.”
A version of this article appeared on p. 1 of the April 14 edition of the Daily Nexus.