Governor Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order makes great strides with zero-emissions vehicle mandate, comes up short on supply side measures 

by Katie Nelson

September 23, 2020

California Governor Gavin Newsom released a new Executive Order on climate this morning

Sacramento, California — Today, Governor Gavin Newsom unveiled his long-awaited Executive Order N-79-20 addressing the climate crisis in response to the record-breaking wildfires across California. The Order requires that all vehicles sold in the state must emit zero emissions by 2035, and also asks the Legislature to end new fracking permits by 2024. Yet it fails to put forward concrete actions to rein in oil production and offers only vague statements when it comes to public health protections from oil and gas drilling.

In response, Greenpeace USA Senior Climate Campaigner Caroline Henderson said:

“Newsom’s announcement includes a significant commitment on zero-emissions vehicles; however, it comes up short on the issue of fossil fuel extraction and does nothing to halt the significant increase in new oil and gas permitting that’s occurred under his administration in the last six months. When it comes to protecting communities from oil and gas drilling, Newsom’s executive order is all words and no teeth. Rhetoric alone will not protect frontline communities from the harms of oil and gas extraction, nor will it address the climate emergency that’s currently playing out in California. As the state continues to experience a record-breaking wildfire season, we must swiftly move away from fossil fuels that further endanger public health and fuel climate chaos, and instead invest in a just, safe, and equitable energy system for the future.

“We applaud Governor Newsom for directing his relevant agencies to speed up the remediation of former oil extraction sites. But he can’t stop here — he must now seize this chance to create good jobs and economic renewal in areas hit hardest by the fossil fuel industry. 

“During his campaign, Newsom emphasized the importance of a managed phaseout of fossil fuel production. Yet nearly two years later, his track record has only gotten worse, and for months we’ve heard nothing but hypotheticals and seen nothing but baby steps. It’s not enough for Newsom to believe in climate science if he continues to exacerbate the problem by expanding the fossil fuel industry — especially when he has the ability right now to immediately halt new oil and gas permits. If Governor Newsom truly wants to be a climate leader, he must put forth concrete policies and urgent timelines for implementation.

“This executive order fails to comprehensively address the root issues fueling this crisis. We need him to stop fueling the flames and take action at once.”

While Newsom has spent recent weeks on the national stage underscoring the need to listen to science and to confront the growing climate emergency, his administration has approved significant numbers of oil and gas permits in the first half of 2020. His rhetorical support for public health and safety protections comes after Assembly Bill 345 was struck down by the California State Senate this summer — a process which will now be left up to the California Ecologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM). Newsom also said that his administration planned to issue a series of executive orders regarding climate in the coming months. 


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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