California Dreamin’…of Big Oil?
Golden State Democrats and ‘Big Oil’ Could find themselves on the same side fighting the state’s powerful environmental lobby.
An op-ed written by a colleague landed on the pages of the Orange County Register. It might make one do a double take, to make sure this is the same Orange County known and loved (or hated) in the state of California: “Democrats now see downside of CEQA”
‘CEQA’ is the abbreviation for the California Environmental Quality Act, put in place in 1970 in response to what op-ed author Steven Greenhut says was the nation’s “push to clean up the environment”. He says the good intent of mitigating “environmental harm from new projects” ironically “created a convoluted bureaucratic process” instead.
“One can argue whether the high costs the act imposes in terms of delays and reports have helped preserve the state’s ecology,” he writes, “but there’s no question it delays the construction of just about everything.”
And apparently, contrary to conventional thinking, California’s new crop of Democrats may be inclined to agree. Greenhut points out that according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, the Golden state’s economic recovery isn’t going so well: “The Democrats’ new group of self-styled moderates, who hold immense power in the state Capitol now that the Republican Party is essentially dead, have made job creation their top priority.”
So CEQA is now a target of Democrats, and they could have an unlikely ally in the oil industry.
“California is sitting on a massive amount of shale oil and could become the next oil boom state. But only if the industry can get the stuff out of the ground without upsetting the state’s powerful environmental lobby.”
Granted, extracting more than 400 BILLION barrels of oil from the Golden State isn’t quite what the state’s Democrats, including Gov. Jerry Brown, have in mind. Greenhut says the ulterior motives for the Dems may be that “they don’t want anything snarling the projects they favor, most obviously, high-speed rail” and that CEQA “also applies to public projects and forces the government sector to fight the same red tape as the rest of us.”
Without that pressure, Greenhut says there would be no pressure for them to change their ways on CEQA. But if the Democrat majority in California wants to put a stranglehold on the very environmental regime that has for decades done its own share of strangling job growth, it might have to accept ‘Big Oil’ as its tag team partner.
Who knows: If the oil production pans out, California Democrats could end up being heroes for not only an economic boom and exponential job growth in the state, but pushing the United States even further toward energy independence. According to CNN, California’s Monterey Shale is “thought to contain more oil than North Dakota’s Bakken and Texas’s Eagle Ford — both scenes of an oil boom that’s created thousands of jobs and boosted U.S. oil production to the highest rate in over a decade.”
Don’t forget, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been loudly trying to recruit California businesses to the Lone Star State’s more friendly tax climate. If the oil boom were allowed to happen, Gov. Brown could then tell Perry to eat his ‘Heart of Texas’ out.
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