Thanks to decades of energy policies that shunned oil pipeline connections to neighboring states, California is an isolated energy market that must either produce the oil it needs in-state or import it on oil tankers from overseas.
California’s status as an “energy island” is the focus of a new TV ad from Californians for Energy Independence, and the latest in a series aiming to reorient the state’s energy policy conversation around facts.
The ad states:
“Experts warn: policies to shut down our highly regulated, local oil production before we have enough alternative energies in place would force our state to depend on volatile foreign countries for the oil we still need – risking our access to reliable energy while increasing prices here at home.”
Crucially, oil produced overseas is not subject to California’s world-leading environmental, labor, and public health protections. In fact, California imports millions of barrels of oil each week from countries with dubious human rights records.
Furthermore, a heavy reliance on oil tankers to ship critical energy supplies to the world’s fourth largest economy carries additional risks and drawbacks. A third of California’s oil supply passes through the unstable Strait of Hormuz where tankers are regularly attacked and seized. And requiring tankers to dock in ports to unload oil that could otherwise be produced in-state directly adds to air pollution challenges for disadvantaged communities living in Southern California.
As an energy island, California is vulnerable to energy price spikes driven by supply interruptions that are out of the state’s control. Protecting the basic energy security of its 40 million residents will require a recognition of this fundamental reality – and a recognition that the state must produce more of the oil it uses every day.