Unveiling his 2022-2023 budget early last year, Governor Newsom touted new funds for programs to help oil and gas workers displaced by state energy policies:
“If we’re sincere about changing the way we produce and consume energy, what are we going to do for all those folks that are currently filling up our tank, and all those folks that have been out there in the fields, working hard to build this economy as we know it today? We need to lead in terms of answering that tough question.”
Twelve months later, the drive to lead on worker transition assistance seems to have disappeared.
The Sacramento Bee reports that the oil and gas workforce displacement training and assistance programs established last year will not receive any funding under Newsom’s 2023-2024 budget proposal.
One oil industry worker called the decision a “slap in the face,” telling the Bee: “If they want to do this transition the right way, they need our workers, our voices at the table.”
The decision to not provide funding for worker transition programs does not align with Newsom’s rhetoric on the topic. The governor has repeatedly pledged reassurance that impacted oil and gas workers would be supported throughout the energy transition.
Just five months ago, in an interview with the FOX affiliate in Sacramento, Newsom said of oil and gas workers:
“We’re going to keep them employed … No one’s naive of doing their part during the transition that we’re not leaving people behind.”
Newsom has also repeatedly pledged support for California’s oil producing regions that are set to see the steepest job losses under his policies.
In November 2019, Newsom said of the Central Valley: “I care deeply about this damn Valley because I care about this state … I’m so sick and tired of this notion that somehow we’re living in two different worlds in the state, coastal economy and inland economy.”
Similarly, in his first State of the State address, Governor Newsom described the region as “hungry for investment” and its residents as “Californians who deserve a fair share of our state’s prosperity.”
On a visit to Arvin in 2021, Newsom assured: “I’m not some guy from San Francisco that doesn’t give a damn about the Valley.”
If Newsom wants to show he cares about oil workers and their communities, a good place to start would be upholding his basic commitments to transition assistance.