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Last week the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Minerals held a hearing entitled, “Energy Independence: Domestic Opportunities to Reverse California’s Growing Dependence on Foreign Oil”. This hearing was a thinly-veiled promotional exercise for increasing oil drilling and fracking in the Golden State.
California knows a lot about the perils of oil drilling; forty-five years ago, ‘the oil spill heard round the world’ off the shore of Santa Barbara led Californians to ban offshore drilling. Concerns about the impacts of climate change have led the Golden State to take a leading role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions statewide, and setting standards that other states and nations are following. A popular movement in California is calling for an end to fracking for oil and gas, as a bill calling for a moratorium on fracking, SB 1132, gains momentum in Sacramento.

This is why the hearing in Washington DC is out of touch with the people of California.

Our voters and legislators approved high-speed rail, promoted electric cars, incentivized renewable energy, and implemented some of the best protections from air pollution in the country. In fact, one area where this Subcommittee hopes to drill- in California’s Monterey Shale- contains oil so dirty that burning it could run afoul of our state’s air rules.

Should it Stay or Should it Go?

In addition to ignoring the will of Californians, the US House Majority is out of touch with its own message. First, they cannot both support energy independence and support lifting the oil exports ban and shipping liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Asia. Either we use energy here or we sell it abroad. Second, they cannot both say they prefer state oversight of oil and gas drilling while decrying California’s environmental protections.

Californians should be proud of leading the way in breaking our dependence on dirty fossil fuels. What we need to do now is make sure we say no to more oil drilling and fracking in the Golden State. Nearly 4000 Californians delivered a similar message pretty clearly in Sacramento at the Don’t Frack California rally last month.

Energy independence means increased efficiency and more renewables, not more dirty drilling and worse pollution, in California and beyond.

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