Environmental groups take to the skies, asking Gov. Newsom to ‘stop fueling the flames’

by Katie Nelson

October 8, 2020

Airborne activists asked Newsom to confront the growing climate emergency

© Josh Edelson / Greenpeace

Butte County, California Today, activists from the Last Chance Alliance took to the smoky skies in Greenpeace USA’s hot air balloon to tell Governor Gavin Newsom that he must phase out fossil fuels and stop exacerbating the climate crisis that is worsening California’s wildfires. The hot air balloon, which flew over Chico for an hour this morning, displayed a banner reading “Newsom: Stop Fueling the Flames” to call out the governor’s climate hypocrisy during his first two years in office. 

In the first six months of 2020, Governor Newsom’s administration significantly increased new permits for oil and gas drilling compared to the same period last year. This week, the Last Chance Alliance launched billboards and radio ads across Sacramento to drive home the message that in order to address California’s climate emergency, Newsom must phase out oil drilling.  

Photos are available here: https://media.greenpeace.org/shoot/27MDHU7OIKR

Two weeks ago, Newsom signed Executive Order N-79-20 addressing the climate crisis. The Order, issued in response to this year’s record-breaking wildfires, set 2035 as the deadline for zero-emissions vehicles in California, and requested that the Legislature end new fracking permits by 2024. Just yesterday, Newsom issued a significant executive order making California the first nation in the country to commit to conserving 30% of its land and coastal waters by 2030. But both executive orders failed to put forward tangible actions to curb oil production in the state or adopt public health protections from oil and gas drilling.

Hot air balloon pilot and Greenpeace USA Senior California Actions Campaigner Harmony Lambert said: 

“As Newsom does a victory lap with his latest climate announcement, wildfires are still raging across the state—including California’s first-ever gigafire. So today, activists are taking to the skies, roads, and airwaves to tell Governor Newsom to ‘stop fueling the flames’ and rapidly move away from fossil fuels that further endanger public health and fuel climate chaos. 

“While Governor Newsom is enjoying the limelight for his recent executive orders, he’s simultaneously continuing to fuel the climate crisis by expanding the fossil fuel industry over his past two years in office. He has the authority to immediately halt new oil and gas permits, but so far has actually increased new permits for oil and gas drilling since January. Speeches alone will not tackle the climate crisis that’s currently playing out in California, nor will it protect frontline communities from the harms of oil and gas extraction. To be the climate leader we need, Newsom must begin a managed decline of the fossil fuel industry and commit to a 2,500 foot public health and safety buffer to protect communities from drilling.

“The climate emergency we’re facing won’t stopand neither can we.” 

19-year-old activist Nalleli Cobo, who grew up near an oil drilling site in South Los Angeles, said: 

“Since I was nine years old, I’ve been calling on our elected leaders to stand up for environmental justice and protect those people, like me, who have been sickened by toxic oil drilling in our neighborhoods. They have yet to answer my call. It should be impossible for Governor Newsom to ignore this massive balloon floating over Chico. My question for him is—will he rise up and take this opportunity to protect our health and phase out oil drilling?”

Community organizer and Chico resident Steven Marquardt said: 

“From the Oroville Dam collapse, which forced over 188,000 people to flee their homes, to the Camp Fire, which killed 86 people, to this year’s fires which have left us breathing unhealthy air for the last seven weeks, we in Butte County are paying the price of the climate crisis that Governor Newsom is fueling. We’re tired of his tweets and his toothless lip service. Lives are on the line and he needs to phase out drilling now.”


To maintain independence, Greenpeace USA does not endorse or oppose any political party, candidate, or elected official. We work to hold all candidates for office to the standard that science says is necessary to avert climate crisis, which means supporting a Green New Deal and ending fossil fuels.


Katie Nelson, Strategic Communications Specialist, Greenpeace USA: +1 (678) 644-1681, [email protected] 

Katie Nelson

By Katie Nelson

Katie Nelson is a Senior Communications Specialist at Greenpeace USA.

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