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Local climate activists call for end to oil drilling, fossil fuel projects

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Rachel Showalter
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The SLO Climate Coalition organized a rally Friday to call for an end to oil drilling and fossil fuel projects.

The SLO Climate Coalition organized a rally Friday in San Luis Obispo to join communities across California calling for an end to fossil fuel projects in the state.

Former San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon spoke at the rally. She said the goal was to encourage an end to fossil fuel reliance amid the oil crisis linked to the Russian war on Ukraine.

“If we can more urgently evolve to a clean energy economy, it would really mitigate a lot of those kinds of tragic outcomes,” Harmon said.

She also called on San Luis Obispo County officials to address local oil and drilling projects.

“Right here at home, in Arroyo Grande, there’s the Arroyo Grande oil field that the Supervisors voted to allow to be expanded," Harmon said. "We’re saying we don’t accept that. We don’t want that.”

That 4-1 vote happened back in October and approved the addition of 31 new oil wells at the site over the next three years. A majority of Supervisors argued the operation could be done in a clean and efficient manner while environmental activists said the project would threaten public health by polluting nearby water and air.

Jason Pfeifle with the Center for Biological Diversity was another speaker at the rally. He called for Governor Gavin Newsom to lead the statewide transition off of fossil fuels.

“That must start with an immediate halt on new fossil fuel permits, which the Governor has the authority to do, and to end neighborhood drilling for good,” Pfeifle said.

Governor Newsom’s 2022-23 state budget proposes spending $22 billion on climate, water and wildfire initiatives. The budget includes everything from electrifying vehicle infrastructure to oil and gas well capping.

San Luis Obispo’s official climate goals are on the city’s website.

Rachel Showalter first joined KCBX as an intern from Cal Poly in 2017. During her time in college, she anchored and reported for Mustang News at Cal Poly's radio station, KCPR. After graduating, she took her first job as a Producer at KSBY-TV. She returned to the KCBX team in October 2020 and now reports daily for KCBX News. Rachel spends her off-days climbing rocks, cooking artichokes and fighting crosswords with friends.
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