Doing Bad Things to the Environment in the Name of Environmentalism


Protesters converge on the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, Sept. 13, 2018. The message of the protesters was mainly directed at the California governor, Jerry Brown, calling on him to stop oil drilling in the state and protect residents who live close to oil facilities. (Marian Carrasquero/The New York Times)

Certain very large, very noisy factions of the American left have taken to opposing the construction of pipeline infrastructure vigorously.

I’m not just talking about political and legal obstruction. Roadblocking a pipeline by gumming up the regulatory process, or seemingly endless litigation, is one thing. But often these projects are opposed with violence and criminal activity. I’m talking about the riots aimed at the Dakota Access Pipeline project here in North Dakota, or the similar activity promised in opposition to the Line 3 Replacement project in Minnesota.

But all of this opposition has real world consequences. Because, the fact is, Americans still use oil. A lot of it. Even in California, the world’s 5th largest economy which is almost entirely under the control of left wing Democrats, oil consumption is very high.

“The state’s daily need to support its 145 airports (inclusive of 33 military, 10 major, and more than 100 general aviation) is 13 million gallons a day of aviation fuels,” reports Ronald Stein. “In addition, for the 35 million registered vehicles of which 90 percent are NOT EV’s are consuming DAILY: 10 million gallons a day of diesel and 42 million gallons a day of gasoline. Thus, more than 60 million gallons of fuel per day being used by the 5th largest economy in the world.”

Yet despite this reality, the political opposition from California’s leadership to developing oil resources within the state’s borders (such as the Monterey Shale formation) or building pipelines to access oil reserves in other states had led to the state’s increasing reliance on foreign oil even as the United States has become the largest oil producer in the world:

Again, per Stein:

According to the U.S. Energy information Administration (EIA) the United States is now the largest global crude oil producer, surpassing Russia and Saudi Arabia to become the world’s largest crude oil producer. The American shale boom has important security implications as well, as America is now less dependent on crude oil from the turbulent Middle East, EXCEPT for California.

California is an “energy island” to roughly 40 million citizens, bordered between the Pacific Ocean and the Arizona/Nevada Stateline with no pipelines over the Sierra Nevada Mountains. To access the oil shale boom from the rest of the country for California, that oil must to go through the Panama Canal to reach California ports. There are other options of crude oil by trucks, or by railroads, but both have been overwhelmingly ruled out environmentally.

Both California’s in-state crude oil production, and Alaskan oil imports are both in-decline to meet the States’ energy needs. Shockingly, California increased crude oil imports from foreign countries from 5% in 1992 to 56% in 2017.

Even despite progressive political leadership, California uses a lot of oil. The state has not only eschewed its own oil resources, but American oil in general, leaving it more dependent on oil produced by often despotic regimes. Regimes, it’s safe to say, which are not nearly so scrupulous when it comes to environmental regulations around oil production as the U.S. is.

And all of this is done in the name of environmentalism.

It’s just that California opening its doors to American oil would be good for North Dakota, America’s second largest producer of oil. It would also be good for California and the world. But hating “big oil” is an ideological tenet of California’s political leadership, and that leaves little room for reason.