The Golden State's Clean Green Hypocrisy

The Golden State's Clean Green Hypocrisy
(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
The Golden State's Clean Green Hypocrisy
(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
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The California State Legislature claims to be leading the charge against climate change, yet state lawmakers have a dirty little secret that needs to be exposed as the raging hypocrisy it is. 

If protecting the climate is their Holy Grail of causes, how do they justify the recent moratorium on nearly all oil production in California? As the rest of the nation has become energy independent for the first time in history, California still imports 70% of its oil — primarily from Iraq and Saudi Arabia. In a state with an abundance of this natural resource, why are we bringing it in from the other side of the world rather than producing it right here at home? 

The more oil we import, the more carbon output we create. Not only is imported oil much dirtier than what is produced in California, but it requires cargo ships to take it to our ports and trucks or trains to transport it all over the state — all which pollute our air and add to the congestion of our highways, ports, and railways. 

We import more oil through the Strait of Hormuz than we produce in California, which ties us to the Middle East in dangerous and unnecessary ways. We also get oil from Colombia and Brazil — both of which put the environment at risk with their low production standards that pollute waterways, cause spills and create threats to the rainforest and endangered species. U.S. energy is safe, reliable, affordable, and the cleanest possible. Punishing California oil producers only subsidizes bad actors worldwide, creating national security risks, harming the planet, and even funding human rights abuses.  

It also puts the Golden State in a precarious position. If tensions were to escalate with one of the countries that supplies a large portion of our oil, it would put California’s supply line in jeopardy and potentially paralyze the state with shortages. This is one of the primary reasons why the rest of the country has moved away from dependency on foreign oil. With the nation as a whole a net exporter of oil once again, there is no excuse for California’s self-imposed dependency on imported foreign oil. 

California already leads the nation in renewables — over 30% of the state’s electricity comes from renewable energy sources. The transition to cleaner power is already happening here — but there is still no immediate pathway forward for the state without gas and oil. California oil producers already function under the strictest environmental standards in the country; they should be admired as a role model for the industry, not punished. Limiting production does not limit demand or consumption. Lawmakers could go so far as to outlaw oil extraction altogether, but that wouldn’t stop the cars and busses and trucks.  

Last summer, Gov. Gavin Newsom imposed a moratorium on fracking — which accounts for about 90% of new drilling permits — while state officials "study the safety" of operating these oil fields. This “study” has lasted for months now already, with no committed timeline to return to the previous pace of approvals. During this time, California’s oil industry is not only losing money, investors, and tax revenue, but it is being publicly defamed as if oil producers are single-handedly responsible for polluting the planet.  

Kern County, in the heartland of California, has been hit especially hard by the governor’s ruling, and is looking at options ranging from declaring a state of economic emergency to deeming the county an "oil sanctuary." 

The Trump administration has sought to throw California’s oil industry a lifeline by lifting a federal moratorium on new oil and gas leases on federal lands. The move was projected to support nearly 3,000 jobs and generate $670 million in tax revenue, but Newsom’s fracking freeze has deprived California of those benefits. 

These permit delays are economically devastating to California, but they also create national security risks that the rest of the country should be concerned about as well. As President Trump continues to make our nation safer by lessening our dependence on foreign imports, Newsom has put the special interests of the vocal progressives ahead of the good of the state and the country. His drilling moratorium is a sop to radical environmentalists, but it doesn’t even accomplish its stated goals. Newsome isn’t changing the climate for the better; he’s just changing the economy of California for the worse.  

Gov. Newsom should immediately remove his moratorium and allow Kern County and the rest of the state to drill — and grow — again. California’s clean, green hypocrisy is on full display in this debilitating decision to effectively end oil production in the Golden State. California Democrats are choosing to make a political point over truly protecting the environment. 

Peggy Grande (@peggy_grande) is the chairwoman of @World4Brexit and author of “The President Will See You Now: My Stories and Lessons from Ronald Reagan’s Final Years.” She was the executive assistant to President Ronald Reagan from 1989 to 1999 and serves on the National Board of the Royal Commonwealth Society of the USA. She is an internationally published opinion writer and TV and radio commentator. She is also a native Californian.

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