Valley Voices

A truly green energy policy would support oil production in California

Oil pumps operate near Lost Hills in Kern County.
Oil pumps operate near Lost Hills in Kern County. AP file

On any given day, Americans who call the Golden State home use dozens of petroleum byproducts. These products are much more than just the gas in our cars. They are also the footballs our children play with, roads we drive on, tires that move our cars, plastic in electric cars, medical equipment we rely on, shampoo, soap, toothbrushes, ballpoint pens, shoes and much more.

Unfortunately, the industry that provides all these products is under attack by Gov. Newsom, his administration, and the green movement. The governor recently signed a set of bills in an effort to move California away from fossil fuels. A world without oil and oil byproducts is completely unrealistic, and it’s time Newsom and other lawmakers understand and accept the truth about California’s oil and gas industry.

California refineries are supplied over 640 million barrels of crude oil a year. Instead of producing oil in our state to meet this need, we rely on a foreign supply of oil more than ever before. In 2018, our state produced only 31.1% of our crude oil supply, received 57.5% from foreign nations and 11.4% from Alaska. In 1985, California refineries were supplied 644 million barrels of crude oil. At the time, California produced over 60% of our oil supply, received only 5.5% from foreign nations and 32.7% from Alaska.

The two largest foreign sources are Saudi Arabia and Ecuador, which together provide more than half of California’s foreign oil imports. These are countries where women have few rights, where free speech is limited, and where the judicial process is corrupt or effectively nonexistent. These countries also have little to no concern for the environment and few regulations on responsible oil production. When they export their oil and gas to the United States, they use large ships powered by bunker fuel, which emit huge amounts of carbon pollutants into the atmosphere. We should not be shipping oil from other ends of the globe when we can produce it here in a cleaner and safer fashion.

Lawmakers should not be supporting regimes with such dismal human rights records and proven histories of blatant disregard for the environment. The cost of relying on foreign regimes and transporting fuel to our state far outweigh the benefits of any green dream and in fact are contrary to those objectives.

California is a world leader in environmental policy. Oil producers must comply with a multitude of regulations, policies, and safety precautions at the local, state, and federal levels to ensure their operations are safe and not harming the environment. Even so, “environmentally friendly” politicians opt to support radical foreign regimes through their domestic anti-oil positions. The best thing we can do to protect the environment is to produce oil here, in an environmentally responsible manner.

In addition to the environmental benefits of producing oil within our borders, the oil and gas industry also plays a critical role in job creation in our economy. Almost 400,000 jobs in the state are supported by the oil and gas industry, and more than $152 billion is pumped into California’s economy. The oil industry provides everyday citizens with extraordinary opportunities and gives many the opportunity to buy a home, receive health-care benefits, and maintain a stable wage for their families for the first time in their lives.

This move from fossil fuels is less of a move away from the consumption of oil and gas in our state than it is a shift toward relying on foreign nations for the product. This reliance does not help our environment or benefit our economy. Lawmakers need to understand that the demand for oil is not going away. Instead of fantasizing over this unrealistic vision, they need to promote job creation, support economic growth, and encourage the responsible production of oil within our state’s borders.

Unless we want a future without critical medical supplies, modern technology, hygiene items, and everyday necessities, the attacks on the oil and gas industry in our state must end. Residents of the Golden State should be skeptical of the vision of an oil-free California, as there is not a realistic future without this important industry and its products. Our green future should be the responsible application of all available energy resources and technology. California and the world deserve no less.

State Sen. Shannon Grove of Bakersfield represents California’s 16th Senate District and is the Senate Republican Leader. Dave Noerr is the mayor of Taft and worked in the oil and gas industry for 38 years.

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