In the midst of this encouraging environment, comes the news that California has opted to deny an offshore drilling lease that would have provided much needed income to the state and high-paying jobs. And, as they say, as California goes, so goes the nation. Let’s hope their foolhardy decision is not a harbinger of things to come.
Said as only a Californian can say it…
California Says No Thanks to $100 Million; Never Mind to $4 Billion
Governor Schwarzenegger has just vetoed almost $500 million in budget line-item, in order to finalize the state budget. However certain environmental activists convinced the Assembly to deny an offshore oil drilling lease. While the drilling lease narrowly passed in the Senate the proposal eventually stalled in the Assembly. The lease would have provided an injection of $100 million dollars in 2009-2010, and about $4 billion over the next decade; not a bad deal for a state that is quite literally living on borrowed money.
Even after all the spending cuts and state worker furlough days, the state continues to be short on cash. The Assembly’s vote against the offshore drilling lease is troubling because it seems to lack any acknowledgment of California’s dire position both today and in the long term.
Offshore drilling in California would not only provide desperately needed funds to the state coffers but would also create high paying jobs. While the drama of the California budget has played out let us not forget that the state’s unemployment rate is at a historic level, over 11.5 percent. If the economy continues to struggle unemployment rates could move even higher especially in low income and minority communities. California’s foreclosure rates are soaring as people struggle to find jobs, pay mortgages and raise their families. But regrettably it seems the California legislature is content with shipping in energy from around the world as opposed to producing it ourselves. Why would the politicians want to create jobs, cut the budget, grow the economy and be energy independent anyway?
The legislature has also missed an opportunity to clean up the ocean and beaches from oily tarry residue. Less than 1 percent of all oil found in the North American marine environment comes from offshore oil and gas development. According to the National Academy of Sciences, the majority—60 percent—is the result of natural seeps through the ocean floor. In many places, it is even higher. For example, all of the tar on the beaches of Santa Barbara is from natural seeps. Moreover, these seeps are reduced when the oil is produced and transported to shore, where it can be put to use as energy for America.
Tom Tanton is a Senior Fellow with the Pacific Research Institute as well as the Principal of T2 & Associates, a firm providing consulting services to the energy and technology industries. Mr. Tanton has over 35 years experience in the energy, economy, and environmental fields.