By Ronald Stein
California Senator Weiner has taken Governor Newsom’s recent Executive order to ban the sale of gas-powered vehicles and hydraulic fracturing one step further with his introduction of SB 467 to obliterate the California economy. The bill is so broad and ambiguous that the results of its passage would lead to a total production ban in California and increase energy costs upon those that can least afford it. With California already having the highest cost of fuels in the country, the wealthy and middle class have more tolerance for expensive energy, but poverty kills and having legislatures pass legislation making energy more expensive on the less fortunate, will worsen poverty. The Governor is proud of California, despite its dysfunctional energy policies making California the only state in the lower 48 states that imports most of its crude oil from foreign countries almost halfway around the world.
California’s dependency on foreign suppliers has increased imported crude oil from foreign countries from 5 percent in 1992 to 58 percent today. The imported crude oil costs California more than $60 million dollars a day, yes, every day, being paid to oil-rich foreign countries, depriving Californians of jobs, careers, and business opportunities. SB 467 will eliminate in-state production and require the State to increase its monthly imports resulting in expenditures approaching a whopping $90 million EVERY DAY for foreign countries to support the fifth largest economy in the world.
Newsom’s Executive order and Senator Weiner’s SB 467 are forcing increases in our dependency on foreign countries that have less environmental controls than California. SB 467 further reduces oil production by requiring larger setbacks from existing oil production wells, forcing companies to shut down anything within 2,500 feet of a building.
Hopefully, when the bill goes before Senate Natural Resources Committee at a hearing on Tuesday April 13th, it will meet its demise. The bill would result in hundreds of thousands of Californians without jobs, and all 40 million residents being completely reliant on petroleum produced from other parts of the world. It has been a tough year for everyone during the pandemic, but more so on the lower income portion of the population. As we emerge from an emotionally and financially challenging year, we are seeing that the wealthy and middle-income folks have mostly recovered. The bottom half remain far from it.
This dichotomy is evident in many facets of the economy, especially in employment. Jobs are fully back for the highest wage earners, but fewer than half the jobs lost this spring have returned for those making less than $20 an hour, according to a new labor data analysis by John Friedman, an economics professor at Brown University and co-director of Opportunity Insights.
Exorbitant energy costs make California’s economic recovery from the pandemic even more challenging for the 18 million (45 percent of the 40 million Californians) that represent the Hispanic and African American populations of the state. The median income for Latino households in 2016 was $56,200, $55,200 for African American households, and $96,400 for white households. According to several studies, as many as 40 percent of all Californians cannot regularly meet basic monthly expenses.
In 2019, 57 percent of Black families and 50 percent of Latino families with children were poor in terms of net worth, lacking enough financial resources to sustain their families for three months at a poverty level, finds new research from Duke University.
Governor Newsom’s recent Executive order directing the state to require that, by 2035, all new cars and passenger trucks sold in California be zero-emission vehicles, will add more electrical charging demands onto a dysfunctional energy program that has already shuttered nine (9) in-state power plants in the last decade.
California, with 0.5 percent of the world’s population (40 million vs 8 billion) professes to be the leader of everything, and through its dysfunctional energy policies imports more electricity than any other state– currently at 32 percent from the Northwest and Southwest and dysfunctionally HOPES that other states will be able to generate enough power to meet the demands of the state.
In addition to the closure of the San Onofre nuclear power plant and three natural gas power plants in very recent years, the state has five more to shutter in the cross hairs – the last nuclear plant at Diablo Canyon and four more natural gas power plants. The Governor wants to add more electrical charging demands onto an energy grid that would most likely contribute to more rolling blackouts in the coming years. As much as Governor Newsom and Senator Weiner want to electrify everything with intermittent electricity, they have yet to comprehend that intermittent electricity cannot support:
- The fossil fuel energy needs for the non-nuclear military equipment of aircraft carriers, battleships, destroyers, submarines, planes, tanks and armor, trucks, troop carriers, and weaponry,
- Commercial aviation, with 23,000 commercial airplanes worldwide that have been accommodating 4 billion passenger annually,
- Cruise liners, each of which consumes 80,000 gallons of fuels daily, that have been accommodating more than 25 million passengers annually worldwide, and
- The 56,000 merchant ships burning more than 120 million gallons a day of high sulfur bunker fuel (soon to be converted to diesel fuel to reduce sulfur emissions) moving products worldwide worth billions of dollars daily.
Simply put, the goal to “electrify everything” is a de facto energy tax on low- and middle-income Californians that could add more instability to an already proven unstable state power grid.
It is mind boggling that California’s legislature continuously perpetuates greater energy costs onto those that can least afford “energy poverty” as anyone can see the direct correlation between high energy costs for electricity and fuels, and poverty, homelessness, and a housing affordability crisis already impacting the Golden State. To compound the dysfunctionality, Governor Newsom’s recent Executive order to ban the sale of gas-powered vehicles by 2035 and in-state production of energy will be devastating to the state’s economy and environment, as the Governor wants to add more electrical charging demands onto a dysfunctional energy program and increase reliance on foreign oil. California’s legislature continues to perpetuate the state’s dysfunctional energy polices and continues to do everything possible to further INCREASE the costs for energy for its 40 million residents which does not bode well for the bottom half making less than $20 an hour. It’s time for the Senate Natural Resources Committee to reject Weiner’s SB 467.