The UC Irvine chapter of California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG) held a rally to end offshore drilling at Aldrich Park on Oct. 6, following the release of a CALPIRG student statement emailed to the New University on Oct. 3.
Approximately 50 people attended the rally held in response to the recent oil spill off of Huntington Beach. The rally featured various guest speakers, including UCI biology professor Kathleen Treseder.
In the statement, CALPIRG Students State Board Chair and 100% Clean Energy Campaign Coordinator Ria Coen Gilbert, a student at UC San Diego, commented on CALPIRG’s goals to hold fossil fuel industries accountable.
“It’s hard to believe that more than 50 years after the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill, we still need to call for an end to oil drilling and demand polluter accountability and stronger penalties for fossil fuel companies,” Gilbert said. “The 1969 oil spill spurred activists to call for stronger environmental protections. This time, students are calling for an end to dangerous drilling once and for all.”
UCI CALPIRG Chapter Chair and 100% Clean Energy Campaign Coordinator Tabitha Turner, who is a third year biology major, wrote in the statement of the oil spill’s close proximity to UCI campus and its effects upon local wildlife.
“It’s devastating to see the oil spill right in our backyard at Huntington Beach and the Talbert Marsh,” Turner said. “We’re used to seeing a myriad of wildlife in the area, from blue herons to the endangered Ridgway’s Rail marsh bird, and of course the dolphins offshore. Unfortunately, this is just another example that if we drill, we spill.”
Turner told the New University that the Oct. 6 rally was the first in-person CALPIRG rally of the year.
“We’ve been doing kind of a hybrid thing at the beginning of the year, but we actually got cleared to do a big kick-off rally in-person. It was originally planned to be online, but I’m really excited to get to do it in-person because you can just do so much more,” Turner said.
Turner also commented on CALPIRG’s additional campaign for 100% renewable energy as well as what actions CALPIRG has taken towards influencing California legislation on climate change.
“Oil drilling is a part of our 100% [renewable energy] campaign, because we’re trying to move away from fossil fuels. We’re trying to get the whole state of California to commit to 100% renewable energy by 2030,” Turner said. “We’re mostly targeting [Gov. Gavin] Newsom right now because he can sign an executive order to help make this happen … that would be our main focus right now for California legislation.”
According to Turner, CALPIRG will continue to work on behalf of student interests, as well as that of the general public.
“The work we do here is very honest, we base it off of the student interest and all of the public interest. That’s the whole foundation of our organization,” Turner said. “We like to focus on issues that students care about, not special interests like Big Oil, [or] the gas. I would just say that’s what we fight for. That’s what we’re here for. And that’s our main focus as a word, for sure.”
Emma Cho is a Campus News Editor for the 2021-2022 school year. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.