A small group of activists is driving the conversation about climate change in new directions with a push against establishing new gas stations. In March, Petaluma, California, became the first town in America to place a moratorium on new gas station construction thanks to the efforts of local activists Jenny Blaker and Woody Hastings.

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The actions of Blaker and Hastings have inspired many other activists and helped start the conversation about putting an end to the era of gas stations. One such activist is Emily Bit, whose family lives in southern Napa County in California. According to Bit, climate change has become more apparent in her life, with wildfires and extreme weather patterns appearing in recent years. 

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Bit has mobilized her fellow students to stand against the establishment of new gas stations in her town. She believes that together they can stop the construction of two new gas stations proposed in her town. 

Bit borrows a lot from other activists such as Hastings and Blaker, who have had success in their local community. Blaker and Hastings are the co-coordinators of Coalition Opposing New Gas Stations. Blaker says that the push to stop the construction of more gas stations is just the beginning. In the future, the coalition may consider pushing for the construction of more charging stations and demand better public transport facilities.

 “Hopefully the next step is more charging stations, cheaper electric vehicles, better public transport, more bikes. But you have to start somewhere,” said Blaker.

The city of Petaluma has a population of roughly 60,000 people and is served by 16 gas stations. D’Lynda Fischer, a Petaluma councilor, says that for an area of 14.5 square miles, the 16 gas stations are enough.

“Sixty percent of trips in Sonoma County are under five miles and we are basically flat,” Fischer said. “On top of that, 60% of our greenhouse gas emissions are from transportation. We have an obligation to do this.”

Although Hastings and Blaker are happy about their success, they say that it is easier to drive the conversation on a local scale than at the national level at the moment. Hastings argues that if the movement gains national traction, it may be dragged into culture wars.

“We are in a bubble,” said Hastings. “But as more affordable alternatives for transportation emerge I think it’ll become less of an extreme idea.”

Via The Guardian

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