The city of San Francisco voted to approve a measure on Monday that prohibits city-owned lands from being used for fossil fuel extraction. The move is an early step to protect the immediate area from the damaging effects of oil industry activity, and to pave the way for more profitable, and more sustainable, renewable energy projects. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved the legislation swiftly, setting a solid example for other municipalities to take steps to create protections that the next presidential administration will not be so keen on enacting.
The proposed legislation prohibits San Francisco “from entering into or extending leases for the extraction of fossil fuel from city-owned land.” While this news may concern some who believe fossil fuels offer a necessary source of income for city revenue, the legislation’s backers have a different picture to illustrate. The bill was initially proposed after it came to light that Chevron was lasing an 800-acre property from the city and that such a plot of land could net the city an additional $320,000 a year if it were developed into a solar array, over the existing revenue from current oil operations.
“We’re headed for catastrophic changes to our climate if we don’t reduce our use of fossil fuels now. With the pending Trump presidency, local leadership on climate change is more urgent and important than ever,” said City Supervisor John Avalos. “San Francisco and other cities can help lead this country into the clean energy future we need and resist the catastrophic policies our president-elect has proposed. The fact that we can make as much revenue from solar as we do from oil just reinforces that it’s time to keep dirty fossil fuels in ground and transition to a renewable-powered economy.”
The city’s proposed legislation received unanimous support from the board’s Budget and Finance Committee on October 26 and its Land Use Committee on November 14, in part due to an active public community. Now, the Board of Supervisors will follow with a second vote on November 29, where the bill is also expected to advance. If it does, the proposal will land on Mayor Ed Lee’s desk. He is expected to approve it quickly, given the precedent of unanimous support from the city’s leadership.