Watch CBS News

Benicia Mayor Leading Push To End Fossil Fuel Production In California

BENICIA (KPIX 5) -- There's a new push to phase out oil and gas production in California altogether, with the mayor of the oil-refining town of Benicia helping lead the charge.

People can debate the role fossil fuels play in global warming, but there's no doubt it's heating up the political climate.

Benicia Mayor Elizabeth Patterson joined other elected officials in Sacramento Tuesday to speak out against the very existence of the fossil fuel industry.

"I'm asking Gov. Brown and the legislature to do the right thing and phase out gas and oil production in California," said Patterson.

She'd like to see a complete end to oil production in the state even though the Valero oil refinery is the single largest business in the small town she represents.

"We see our addiction to fossil fuels encouraged, promoted and hyped by the industry," said Patterson. "Instead of paying the fossil fuel drug lord, lets pay for rehab."

Benicia residents have mixed views on the subject. Leo Giacomelli lives in a neighborhood overlooking the Valero refinery and says he doen not consider Mayor Patterson's proposal a serious one. "No, not at all," said Giacomelli. "I think it's just something the mayor thinks that she needs to do. I don't know what her criteria is."

While long-time Benician Lee Saltnes believes it would be an uphill battle, he supports the mayor's plan - and doesn't pull any punches about it.

"Oil, petroleum…it's evil," said Saltnes. "We all know that. So … yeah, we can call it evil."

"If oil stops the economy stops," said Giacomelli. "Just look at the big picture and unfortunately, some people just can't see that far into the future."

It's a debate that has heated up as politics become ever more polarized.  So, the question is, do proposals like the mayor's shed light on the issue, or simply throw fuel onto the fire?

Benicia Mayor Patterson is part of a group called "Elected Officials To Protect California," which did not outline any timeframe for when they want California to use 100 percent renewable energy.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.