The Coalition Opposing New Gas Stations (CONGAS), is a grassroots community-based coalition of hundreds of Sonoma County residents and over a dozen local organizations.
CONGAS’s mission is to stop the construction of new gas stations in Sonoma County.
CONGAS was initiated in February 2019 when Sonoma County residents became alarmed about a huge 24/7/365 16-pump gas station, car wash, and mini-mart proposal at State Route 116 and Stony Point Road in unincorporated Sonoma County between Cotati and Sebastopol. The community rose up and defeated the proposal on July 8 2019 when the application was withdrawn amid fierce community opposition.
Subsequently, three additional new gas station proposals were discovered. One was in unincorporated Sonoma County at 5300 Sebastopol Road. In July 2020 CONGAS succeeded in defeating that proposal. The other two are in Santa Rosa at 874 N. Wright Road on the west side and 43 Middle Rincon Road on the east side. CONGAS also works in collaboration with Save Petaluma, the group that is fighting the Petaluma Safeway Gas station proposal. Visit No Gas Here for information about that effort.
Since its emergence in early 2019, CONGAS has:
- Defeated three gas station proposals
- Ballooned to over 1000 names on petitions, grew an email listserv of over 120 individuals, and garnered over 150 emails/letters from individuals and over 15 Sonoma County-based environmental and social justice organizations opposing new gas stations
- Raised funds for an appeal on a bad decision in the 874 N. Wright Road case (still pending)
- Taken on an effort to change the permitting rules that apply to gas stations at the county level, and in Santa Rosa.
- Received local media coverage in recognition of our efforts, and have had several opinion pieces and articles published in local newspapers. Click HERE to have a look.
The Social Cost of Gasoline Use
In every drop that comes out of a gasoline dispenser, there is a trail of devastation for communities and the environment around the world that leads all the way back to the point of extraction of the crude oil from the ground. Low income communities of color in the US and around the world, “frontline communities” are poisoned and/or displaced by effluent and emissions from these operations; low income communities along rail and roadways are threatened by the hazard of oil and gas transportation; similar historically disadvantaged communities of color near refineries and gas processing facilities, “fenceline communities,” face respiratory disorders, cancer, and death rates much higher than the national average. Indigenous communities around the world are severely impacted by pumping and pipelines.
A few examples in North America alone include the Dakota Access Pipeline which threatens the Standing Rock tribe (and 17 million people downstream on the Missouri River), the Keystone XL pipeline which threatens tribes for over one thousand miles from southern Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico, and Alaska where the livelihoods of the Gwich’in people are at risk because of plans to drill in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. These are some of the underlying reasons why we fight to stop the construction of new gasoline stations.
There are many other reasons why CONGAS members oppose gas stations: traffic congestion, leaking underground storage tanks, surface water contamination, public health hazards, overdevelopment, and more. But all CONGAS members share the understanding that in the 2020s, in the midst of a global climate crisis that threatens all of humanity, it is a very bad idea to be constructing new gas stations.