NIPOMO, Calif. -- Climate change advocates held two separate rallies today on the Central Coast to protest against fossil fuels.
A small group of local activists staged demonstrations at the Phillips 66 Santa Maria Refinery on the Nipomo Mesa, as well as at the Chevron gas station in Guadalupe.
The protests were held in an effort to call out fossil fuel companies for their "windfall wartime profits," as well as ask Gov. Gavin Newsom to put California on a path to phase out the use of fossil fuels.
"Oil drilling is usually not very good for the communities that the plant or refinery is around," said Dakota Corrales, a local climate change activist who helped organize the protests. "It's usually not great for the groundwater. It's also not great the climate. It's also not a great option for jobs in the long run because oil is a finite source."
The protests come soon after more than two dozen oil wells in the Bakersfield area were found to be leaking high levels of methane gas.
In a press release from climate change advocacy organization Last Chance Alliance, the group is calling on Gov. Newsom to halt new oil and gas permits, as well as roll out 3,200 feet buffers separating communities from new and existing oil wells.
"We are basically doing action to get people out and get people involved in the issue oof climate change and big oil drilling," said Corrales. "We are trying to pressure to pressure Gavin Newsom to do more about oil drilling and to start phasing more oil drilling out, rather than allowing more oil drilling as he is right now."
In response to the protests, Phillips 66 sent News Channel 12 this response:
Phillips 66 respects the right of individuals to express their viewpoints.
As previously announced, we plan to stop processing crude at Santa Maria in the first quarter of 2023. Once the facility is idled, processing units will be cleaned and shut down. The shutdown will be followed by decommissioning and land remediation under the oversight of local and state agencies.
The closure of Santa Maria is being done in service to Rodeo Renewed, the project to convert our San Francisco Refinery in Rodeo, California, into one of the world’s largest renewable fuels facilities. Rodeo Renewed is an emissions-reduction project that stands to help California both meet its demand for lower-carbon transportation fuels and achieve its environmental goals.
Phillips 66 is not in the business of drilling for oil.
The refinery, which is located along Highway 1 on the Nipomo Mesa, has been in operation for about 60 years.
Last year, Phillips 66 announced the plant will close in 2023. As of last year, the refinery employed 110 people full-time and 50 contractors