image- officials unite against climate change
Half Moon Bay City Councilwoman Deborah Penrose joined other elected officials from San Mateo County on Dec. 18 to press Gov. Gavin Newsom to take further action to address climate change. Kyle Ludowitz / Review

Elected officials from Half Moon Bay, Pacifica and other cities in San Mateo County gathered on Dec. 18 as part of a united effort to ask Gov. Gavin Newsom to act on a statewide climate emergency plan. Their proposal includes phasing out oil production across the state. 

The press conference in the Half Moon Bay Library was held in conjunction with dozens of other mayors and city officials across the Bay Area making similar calls to action. 

All present at the Half Moon Bay event expressed the need for immediate action to be taken in phasing out all fossil fuel production and committing the state to 100 percent renewable energy in all sectors. 

“In my city, we’re seeing coastal erosion exacerbated. We have homeowners on the coast who can’t get fire insurance because of the increased fires… So, these are all immediate effects that are happening right now,” Councilman Harvey Rarback said.  

Earlier this year, Newsom announced a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing and a partial moratorium on high-pressure steam-injection oil drilling. All five San Mateo County elected officials present for the press event urged the state to continue to act boldly. They maintain continued fossil fuel production threatens the health and safety of many vulnerable, low-income communities. 

Currently, more than 80 cities in California have passed about 115 local policies that include setbacks on oil and gas drilling, a phase out of using fossil fuels, and divestment from fossil fuel companies. Both Half Moon Bay and Pacifica have also adopted resolutions in opposition of offshore oil drilling. 

But at this time, there is no comprehensive plan to stop extraction from the state. Since 2011, more than 21,000 permits for new drilling have been issued.

Locally, Rarback mentioned ways the city of Half Moon Bay is working with other government agencies to address other aspects of climate change. He referenced the recent Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design platinum certification of the Half Moon Bay Library as an example.

“It’s an example of the city and the county working together to do what we can to become a greener community,” Rarback said.

Other council members spoke about actions they are taking within their own jurisdictions.

Millbrae Vice Mayor Ann Schneider said her city is organizing a tree-planting campaign and also advocating for San Francisco International Airport to use biofuels. Additionally, many of the officials present at the press conference signed a letter that seeks customer ownership of beleaguered PG&E.

“We need action now so we can provide a sustainable future for our children and for generations to come,” Half Moon Bay City Councilwoman Deborah Penrose said. 

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