Gov. Gavin Newsom needs to embrace a sensible and sustainable energy future — one that includes the men and women of California’s oil and gas industry.
By Catherine Reheis-Boyd, Special to CalMatters
Catherine Reheis-Boyd is president and CEO of the Western States Petroleum Association, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The differences between President Biden and Gov. Newsom were never as stark as they were earlier this month. Both leaders understand the urgency of climate change. Both see our economy transitioning to lower-carbon energy sources. But the way they’re governing is wildly out of sync.
We in the oil and gas industry support the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. We’re eager to back action that matches the urgency of the recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. We support leaders headed to Scotland this fall to draw more action plans for energy transition. We applaud bipartisanship in this month’s infrastructure bill approved by the U.S. Senate. But we in the oil and gas industry are struck by the different approaches of the president and governor.
President Biden seems to understand that our nation’s transportation infrastructure still requires oil and gas production. In an Aug. 11 speech, he spoke of the nation’s energy needs. He said that oil production should increase so that American consumers can see lower prices. Journalists described the president as “pleading with oil countries” to increase production. Let’s be clear: those countries — Russia and Saudi Arabia especially — do not uphold the same standards we do for workers or regard for the environment.
California’s oil industry can produce tens of millions of barrels each year under some of the world’s most stringent environmental regulations, all while supporting our nation’s energy independence. This reality seems lost on Gov. Newsom. Instead, the leaders he appointed to oversee the industry thwart our efforts to meet this goal by denying permits. This increases costs to Californians, costs they cannot afford as they get in their cars, get back to work, and try to recover from the pandemic.
The governor needs to embrace a sensible and sustainable energy future — one that includes the men and women of California’s oil and gas industry. Newsom should commit to working with the Legislature, acknowledging the high-quality careers that oil and gas provides for California, and pledging to protect the support our industry provides to local economies, public services and education in historically underserved regions.
While he’s at it, he should acknowledge that our work is making possible a transition to lower-carbon, sustainable energy infrastructure. Our engineers and scientists work every day to produce renewable fuels made from fats, oils and greases — not just crude oil. We are experts in meeting a growing low-carbon economy’s needs. And we do it all through family-wage careers that support California’s economy.
Energy policy laid out earlier this month perfectly illustrated a tale of two different leaders. It’s time for the president and the governor to get on the same page.