Photo Credit: Nacho Corbella
California’s leaders are laser-focused right now on limiting the spread and impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Addressing this unprecedented threat effectively, however, will require addressing other, long-standing community health problems as well, such as those caused by lack of access to clean air, clean water, and adequate shelter.
Thousands of California residents, for example, have long suffered from health issues caused by the oil and gas industries. From poisoned groundwater in the Central Valley to hazardous uncapped oil wells in Los Angeles and polluted air from oil production facilities near San Francisco Bay neighborhoods, it is low income communities of color who suffer the most from these problems.
As we battle the urgent threat of COVID-19 in our state, now more than ever we must ensure that all community members have access to the basic components of a healthy existence. Harvard University recently released a report linking long-term exposure to pollution to increased COVID-19 death rates, and we already knew that people who live near oil wells are more likely to develop chronic diseases that make them more vulnerable to a disease like this.
For the safety of our children, our families, our friends, and our neighbors, it’s time to phase out oil and gas in California, to ensure that—in normal times—every community is a healthy place to live, work, and play and that in times like we face right now, no one is forced to face a threat like COVID-19 with their health unnecessarily compromised through no fault of their own.