Op-Ed: We can’t afford to shutter California’s aging oil refineries yet. Why?
Editor’s note: This Op-Ed was published following California Gov. Jerry Brown’s announcement last week that he will sign the legislation he sponsored that would open up a dozen refineries to the private sector.
California has a history of trying to manage its resource consumption as effectively as it manages its economy.
From the state’s first statewide plan for conservation and alternative energy at the dawn of the 20th century, to Gov. Jerry Brown’s bold vision of a future of environmental sustainability and economic success decades later, California has been at the forefront of energy policy.
But, as a recent analysis by the Pew Charitable Trusts has shown, California is starting to lag behind other states in what the authors call a “energy transition”—a shift from traditional energy sources to more advanced renewable energy sources.
We’ve seen it first-hand in the last decade with the rapid growth of solar power and the steady decline in the use of carbon-based fuels.
But the consequences of this “energy transition” aren’t only economic: a shift to cleaner electric power will result in a sharp drop in greenhouse-gas emissions—but it’s also in the public interest.
If California’s climate leaders have anything to say about it, those consequences for a rapidly growing state like ours are too good not to embrace.
The Public Interest
California’s high-performing, market-based approach to energy efficiency and conservation has won the admiration of the nation’s business leaders and, indeed, its energy executives.
In a 2012 survey of 300 chief executives and CEO-level managers of leading U.S. companies, 83% of respondents said they would consider moving operations and investments to California if it could reduce its carbon emissions.
They also said that “the state of California’s low carbon energy policies and the high standards of environmental quality will attract many industries to California, making their products more competitive. This will put more economic pressure on other states to develop policies that are more friendly to California’s energy policy.”
This is what California’s leaders have in mind,