There’s a lot of talk about the Green New Deal and what it might mean for the future of the U.S. economy. The truth is, it’s not even clear what the phrase means to those who promote it, including our decision makers in Congress and our decision makers in Los Angeles. But one thing is clear: these plans often ignore the costs of implementation and the economic burden it could create for working families.
In Los Angeles, reducing oil production in the region is being considered as part of a national move away from fossil fuels. But again, this plan is woefully short on details and would threaten the reliability of our region’s energy supply. Despite the promises of new clean energy jobs, this plan would hurt thousands of Los Angeles workers and increase the cost of energy for consumers, particularly those struggling to pay the high cost of housing, child care, transportation and other core needs.
Los Angeles has long been a global leader in reliable energy production. Over the last decade, our region has rapidly changed our electric power supply from coal burning to natural gas power plants, substantially reducing emissions. We have led the way on renewables to help the state establish and meet ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals. We have improved the safety, reliability and efficiency of oil production, which continues to be a vital part of the energy we use, powering our region, state and nation — supplying the products essential to modern life.
Although we continue to expand the use of renewables and continue to diversify our energy supply, locally produced oil and natural gas remains an important energy source which allows us to power our vehicles, homes and businesses — producing and delivering the daily food, water and products that sustain our urban population. Local oil production has served as an economic engine of Los Angeles for more than a century, providing good, middle-class jobs for thousands of Angelenos from diverse communities.
A plan to impose an oil-well setback, a minimum distance between wells and certain sites, would drastically cut local energy production and upend our region’s economy. This minimum distance requirement would disrupt our supply of reliable energy and jeopardize the jobs and financial well-being of thousands of workers. While some claim the “setback” plan is a minor change to oil production, we should make no mistake about what this is — a backhanded effort to shut down existing oil production in Los Angeles in its entirety.
This latest proposal is a wildly irresponsible overreach. This is not just a reduction in local oil production, it is an effort to shut it down altogether.
Such a move is not only irresponsible, it is bad policy. Oil in our region is produced under the strictest safety, labor and environmental standards in the world, and under the purview of more than two dozen different federal, state and local regulatory bodies. Eliminating production in Los Angeles would result in importing more oil from countries that don’t have the same environmental protections or human rights standards. Californians already import 70 percent of crude oil by supertankers to meet their energy needs — sending $89 million a day to places that don’t hire Angelenos, pay any California taxes or apply our leading environmental standards. Moreover, shutting down local oil production not only increases our reliance on foreign oil, but would also leave Angelenos susceptible to the effects of international turmoil, embargoes and shipping disruptions.
Despite what some may claim, we simply cannot snap our fingers and become reliant upon only renewables. As we’re transitioning to a greater reliance on alternative energy sources, we must continue to reduce the life-cycle emissions from all forms of energy. That’s why California oil and gas producers are devoting scientists, engineers, resources and technology to lead these efforts. Local oil and gas producers have employed generations of Angelenos and have helped our economy thrive. This proposal would put all of this at risk while eliminating the oil and natural gas we use to fuel our cars, trucks and planes, provide electricity to our homes and businesses, and create the products we use every day. It is far better that these products and services come from our local sources, as they have for over a hundred years, employing generations of Angelenos and powering our economy.
Stuart Waldman is president of the Valley Industry & Commerce Association (VICA).
Over 200,000 Californians standing together to support safe, affordable and reliable local oil and gas production.