Critics of Gov. Jerry Brown are pressuring him to take a stronger stance on an issue that has come to define his legacy – climate change and the environment.
Consumer and health care groups launched a campaign Wednesday, "Brown's Last Chance," calling on him to freeze all new oil and gas drilling in California and phase out current production.
"We're here to tell the governor that climate leadership means ... standing with us and stopping oil drilling," said Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog, which is leading the campaign with a broader coalition that includes the California Nurses Association and the California-based Courage Campaign.
"Fossil fuels are the No. 1 driver of climate change, and we have to address them. Please be part of the solution," Court said at a press conference at the Inglewood Oil Field near Baldwin Hills in Southern California, one of the largest oil fields in the U.S.
Environmental activists and residents who live near oil and gas production facilities also called on Brown to halt all oil and gas drilling.
"We're dealing with stories of cancer, we're dealing with stories of miscarriages ... nose bleeds," said Ashley Hernandez, who lives in Wilmington and grew up near the oilfields. "Gov. Brown is ... perpetuating environmental racism. We deserve justice ... now is the time to act."
The campaign contrasts with Brown's reputation as a national leader in advancing policies that address climate change. He championed California's cap-and-trade program, and he's opposing a Trump administration proposal to open more oil-drilling platforms along the state's coast.
Hernandez said she got involved in the campaign because her health was affected. Calling the living conditions a "ticking time bomb," she said migraines were among her health problems and, as a result, she had to miss school.
Andrew Krowne said he, his children and his wife have had health problems as a result of living near the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility in the Porter Ranch neighborhood of Los Angeles.
"Our home and our community is literally killing us," Krowne said.
The campaign is urging Brown to meet with coalition members ahead of the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco in September. It has funded newspaper advertisements and billboards across the state, from Los Angeles to San Francisco to Sacramento, calling Brown out by name. They are urging oil fields be replaced by grounds for wind and solar production, or even housing.
"Governor Brown, if dirty oil has us 'on the road to hell,' turn us around," one of the billboards reads.
"Dear Governor Brown, is dirty oil the future you will leave our children?" reads another.
In response, Brown spokesman Evan Westrup said in a statement that "Threatening to sabotage a climate summit aimed at mobilizing world leaders to push beyond the Paris Agreement is a curious way to fight climate change."
In an ad published Wednesday in The Sacramento Bee, the coalition directly addressed Brown again, saying he should "lead by announcing no new permits for oil and gas extraction, fossil fuel infrastructure or petrochemical projects in California," and the state should "set a global precedent by becoming the first oil producing state to announce a phase out of existing production in line with the Paris climate goals."