The City of Antioch has made a world-leading pledge to reject any public investments in new, renewed, or expanded fossil fuel infrastructure and steer the city toward timely climate mitigation and resilience.
Mayor Lamar Hernandez-Thorpe announced the pledge in a press conference February 7. He was the very first mayor to sign the pledge, which is part of a campaign sponsored by Pacific Environment.
“Climate change is not something that is potentially going to happen to us,” Hernandez-Thorpe said. “It is literally happening right before our eyes.” For example, he said, global warming has caused sea level rise, contaminating the San Joaquin/Sacramento River, which was once the city’s water source, with saltwater. The city is now investing in an expensive desalination plant, to open this spring.
The pledge includes a ban on building new gas stations in the city (Antioch’s ordinance is already underway), new bunkering facilities for ships and planes, power plants, new oil and natural gas pipelines, new oil refineries, transport terminals, natural gas processing plants, petrochemical plants, and gas connections to new buildings.
The pledge reinforces Antioch’s existing commitment to advance its green agenda. As a next step, Hernandez-Thorpe intends to transition all city vehicles including police to a zero emissions fleet.
The mayor and city council have been groundbreakers in the fight against fossil fuels. Two years ago they passed a ban against oil and gas drilling within their city limits. Sunflower Alliance has been working closely with Antioch city leaders, and Sunflower Alliance co-coordinators Shoshana Wechsler and Janet Johnson were on stage when Mayor Hernandez-Thorpe announced the pledge. They were joined by members of the Interfaith Climate Action Network of Contra Costa, 350 Contra Costa, the Marsh Creek Democratic Club, the Oil and Gas Action Network, and Pacific Environment.
Wechsler spoke during the press conference, pointing to the connection between the city’s action on the climate pledge, their refusal to renew a gas pipeline permit, the municipal ban on oil and gas drilling, and the wider campaign to ban oil and gas drilling in Contra Costa County, in which Antioch city officials have also played an important role. An oil drilling operation installed in 2019 in unincorporated Antioch caused a wave of resistance.
“There’s a long history of oil and gas drilling in the city of Antioch and throughout Contra Costa County, most specifically in East County,” she said. “We are shutting the door to any further fossil fuel extraction in a county that has long been a major hub of fossil fuel activity.” She praised the mayor and the City of Antioch for their courageous leadership, and hoped the mayor’s latest action will inspire more effort to end fossil fuels.
Learn more about this campaign to ban drilling in Contra Costa and sign the petition supporting it here. And don’t forget to submit comments to Contra Costa County on drilling recommendations in the draft General Plan. Talking points are here.