California Governor Says Foreign Oil Imports Fill Gap Created By Green Energy
Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) acknowledged the transition to renewable energy sources and zero-emissions vehicles has left the state dependent on foreign oil imports. Speaking during a webinar hosted by the U.S. Climate Alliance as part of NYC Climate Week, Newsom announced the state’s plan to halt all sales of gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035 and his request of the state legislature to ban fracking, which he said would quicken California’s transition to renewable energy sources.
“As it relates to managing decline, we’ve got to address the issue of demand. California since 1985, has declined its (oil) production by 60 percent, but only seen a modest decrease in demand, 4.4 percent,” Newsom said. “And that means were making up for a lack of domestic production from Saudi Arabia, Ecuador, and Colombia, and that’s hardly an environmental solution when you look globally.”
Gas-powered cars still make up more than 75 percent of all cars sales in California with zero-emissions vehicles making up less than 10 percent of the market, underscoring Newsom’s point that the demand for oil remains high even has the state produces much less than what it used to
Thomas Pyle, the president of the American Energy Alliance, a pro-free market organization, criticized California’s energy strategy, saying, “It’s laughable to think that this is a model.”
“If you listen carefully to Governor Newsom, he’s basically said that the solutions to all of our problems are just to have a bunch of people sit around in a room in Sacramento or Washington, D.C. and figure things out for us,” Pyle continued.
Responding to Gov. Newsom’s comments about the state focusing on reducing the demand for gas vehicles by consumers, Pyle said, “If you look at crux of the discussion, we did this and that, but we just can’t solve the demand problem. It’s this sort of notion that they’ve got all the answers. When a lot of times, they create the problem, then find a solution, and that creates another problem.”
Pyle argued that California’s policies have depressed their own economic output and increased dependence on imports of foreign oil and other products, which creates its own environmental problems. “Their harbors are brimming from goods from Asia and other places that has to get here by diesel-powered ships,” he said.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis echoed many of Newsom’s comments during the online event as he pushes his state towards renewable energy sources and electrification.
“We have a similar goal to Rhode Island; 100 percent renewable energy is where we are headed. We are planning to get us there by 2040 at 100 percent, we’re going to be at over 80 percent by 2030. Along with electrification of sectors like vehicles where Colorado has led the way, adopted a zero-emissions standard,” Polis said.
Western Wire previously reported that Colorado has goals to mandate a switch from fossil fuel burning sources of power to electric-generated power that go beyond transportation. Most notably, there is a strong focus on buildings which could lead to a ban on natural gas appliances like gas-fired stovetops that would be replaced by electric appliances. Last year, the state hired two private sector consulting firm to create an emissions reductions roadmap.
Polis went on to say that Colorado has a “thriving oil and gas sector and reducing emissions associated with the extraction process has also been a big goal for us.”
Colorado’s membership in the U.S. Climate Alliance came under fire last month when the Colorado Sun reported that Polis “is accepting more than $1 million from donors, nonprofits and foundations to pay salaries and costs associated with six top policy positions.” The paper noted one Polis staff member focused on climate change whose pay is “funded through the U.S. Climate Alliance with money from a foundation backed by the grandson of Walmart’s founder.”
The story reported that this arrangement allows Polis to advance key environmental policy goals without the scrutiny of Colorado lawmakers.”
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham was another western leader who participated in the U.S. Climate Alliance webinar, and she made it clear she wants to end oil and natural gas production in the state.
“We need to transition out of fossil fuels,” Lujan Grisham said.
Additionally, Lujan Grisham also appeared to dismiss infrastructure investment in favor of clean-technology jobs, before stating she does want both.
“We’re moving away from, and not be rejecting, we want infrastructure jobs, but we also want to identify all those research and high tech jobs,” she said.
If New Mexico’s leaders push the oil and natural gas industry out of the state, they’ll face major budget shortfalls. The state is the third-largest oil-producing state in the nation and the sector contributes approximately 39 percent of New Mexico’s annual budget. Last year the state set a record of $3 billion in tax revenue generated, which provides major support to education and infrastructure.