Climate advocates challenge Gov. Newsom's record on standing up to fossil fuel industry

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Whether in conversation with the president or with the dramatic ruins of a wildfire as his backdrop, Governor Gavin Newsom has been sounding the alarm on climate change, positioning himself on the national stage as a climate leader.

However, some environmental advocates say with all his talking, he's failing to walk the walk.

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They say he's falling short on some promises to address climate change at its root.

"I think if the governor is screaming that climate change is an emergency, he has to act with his emergency powers to stop oil drilling now," said Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog.

The advocacy group has been tracking oil and gas permits approved by the Newsom on

"As of late, his record hasn't been good," said Court.

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Dr. Lucy Jones, scientist and seismologist, has no doubt climate change is real and is causing severe issues for our planet.

Alexandra Nagy, California director at Food and Water Watch is disappointed the governor keeps defending climate change science when she says the consensus on that front has been evident for a long time. Instead, she wants Newsom to walk the walk by shutting down Aliso Canyon in Los Angeles, the site of a massive natural gas leak in 2015, keeping oil drilling away from schools and homes and banning fracking.

"I would say that his actions are hypocritical especially since he's promised Californians when running for governor, that we would take on the fossil fuel industry." she said.

Court and Nagy say the Newsom has to do more than just challenge the president. On ABC7 News at 4 p.m., we asked California Secretary for Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot about the governor's record.

"We need to continue to lead the world transitioning to a lower-carbon economy, reducing our pollution and on that, the Newsom administration and state leaders, legislators like Governor Brown have delivered," said Secretary Crowfoot. "While there's concern about 48 fracking permits that were issued earlier this year, the lowest amount in four years, let's keep our eye on the prize which is reducing our reliance on fossil fuels."

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With his recent media appearances, Nagy is concerned that the governor is performing as a climate leader, rather than acting like one.

"He's a very ambitious person and politician and he's using this opportunity to continue to put himself as a climate leader, making California and the world think he's doing well on climate change when the opposite is true," said Nagy.

Court says he's giving the governor time to introduce major initiatives to address fossil fuel use in the state, but his time is running out on keeping his promises.

"I don't think he's crossed the line to hypocritical yet but he's been flirting with some ideas and now's the time to put up or shut up, I think," said Court.
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