LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Hundreds of people gathered today outside Los Angeles City Hall for a Fire Drill Friday event to demand changes to climate policies, which was hosted by actress Jane Fonda and the environmental organization Greenpeace.
Fonda kicked off her speech by saying she's been speaking with local and state officials about passing laws to end new oil- and gas-drilling operations and for the planet to divest in fossil fuels.
``The ones who are not stepping up are our elected officials,'' Fonda told the crowd. ``If they won't act, we can vote them out of office. We have to organize and mobilize in such unprecedented numbers.''
Fonda said she spoke with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti recently, and that she convinced him to change policies to ban permits for new oil and gas wells. Fonda said activists must get Gov. Gavin Newsom to make a similar pledge.
``This is the front line of the climate crisis,'' Fonda said of Los Angeles. ``What happens here can affect the rest of the country and the rest of the world. We already have more oil and gas projects that are underway ... than the climate can sustain.''
Fonda said it's not enough to just push for renewable energy. Oil and gas production must also be stopped.
In December, the Los Angeles City Council took steps to start creating a law that would require half-mile buffer zones between oil- and gas- drilling operations and sensitive areas such as neighborhoods and schools.
That could come with financial consequences, officials with the city's Office of Petroleum and Natural Gas Administration and Safety said. The proposed restriction on new rigs alone could expose the city to between $1.2 billion and $97.6 billion in legal claims and other costs.
Activists spoke about the health problems people experience when living near oil and gas extraction, particularly in low-income neighborhoods. Studies have linked people to developing cancer and other health issues.
``It is not the communities of the rich and affluent Los Angeles that are being affected. It is the low-income communities of color that are,'' Kevin Patel, a climate activist and founder of One Up Action. ``I want my governor ... to hear our voices as we, the youth, are dying.''
Following the speeches, by which time the crowd size had swollen to about 1,000 people, Fonda led a march with other film actors and actresses, such as Joaquin Phoenix, through the downtown area to Pershing Square. People carried colorful signs that chastised policies that allow new oil and gas exploration.
Fonda, 81, was arrested five times in the last year for her protests in Washington D.C., and she said it was the younger generation that has inspired the elders to join them in the fight against change climate.
At the Los Angeles Fire Drill, no one was arrested or cited, according to Los Angeles Police Department officers at the scene.
According to the Fire Drill Friday website, the organization demands the passage of a federal Green New Deal focused on transferring the nation to 100% renewable energy by 2030, and Fonda said the switch to such energy has to be an equitable for people employed by the oil and gas companies they want to make obsolete.
Fire Drill Fridays also wants to protect indigenous lands and water from fossil fuel extraction.
Friday's gathering was the first Fire Drill Friday in California and the 15th since they began last year.