Environmental Activist and Storyteller
Nalleli Cobo led a grassroots campaign to permanently shut down a toxic oil well in her community. Cobo-Uriarte, 22, grew up in South Los Angeles and started engaging in activism at age 9. Over the years, she endured headaches, nosebleeds and heart palpitations caused by pollution from the well in her community. She gave her first public speech at age 10. Even as a child, her skills as an orator caught others’ attention and paved the way for her to eventually become the leading spokesperson for banning oil extraction in Los Angeles. Cobo-Uriarte co-founded People Not Pozos, an organization that aims to secure a safe and healthy neighborhood, and the South Central Youth Leadership Coalition, which focuses on ending environmental racism in Los Angeles. In March 2020, her organizing culminated in the definitive closure of the AllenCo drilling site across the street from her childhood home. Additionally, AllenCo executives are facing over 24 criminal charges for environmental health and safety violations thanks to her work.
Cobo-Uriarte was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 19. After three surgeries and medical treatment, she was declared cancer-free. After years of tireless work by Cobo-Uriarte and many others, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to phase out oil drilling over the next 20 years. Her story and leadership also inspired the enactment of SB 1137, which bans all new oil wells within 3200 feet of communities in California. She won the 2022 Goldman Environmental Prize and was named on the 2022 Time 100 Next list.