Fossil-fuel-phobic Brown, Nichols pine for world that will never be

Nov. 21
By Chris Reed

The California media’s never-is-heard-a-discouraging word coverage of AB 32 and the recent cap-and-trade auction continues. But what’s astounding is that just a week ago, the International Energy Association declared that fracking had the U.S. on track to be the world’s largest oil producer by 2020, and no reporter brought this up to Gov. Jerry Brown or air board boss Mary Nichols after they declared the fossil-fuels era was on the wane. Perhaps all the enviro reporters, Brown and Nichols missed the IEA report, as well as this Oct. 24 New York Times story:

“The [U.S.] drilling boom has allowed many refiners to buy crude at a huge discount — sometimes $20 or more a barrel — below international benchmark prices. That is especially true for refineries that operate in the core of the country, where there is a glut of crude from the North Dakota Bakken shale formation because of insufficient pipelines. Historically, until the last couple of years, American crudes typically were priced 50 cents to a dollar higher than international crudes.

“The price advantage of United States refiners over their foreign competitors helped the country last year become a net exporter of refined petroleum products for the first time since the late 1940s, producing nearly $10 billion in annual revenue from daily net exports of 370,000 barrels a day of gasoline and diesel.”

This is far from the only New York Times story that chronicles the U.S. oil boom. Here’s another.

My point: The gov, the air board chief and many enviro journos are trapped in the past. The whole “peak oil” trope is so 2006. Which brings us back to AB 32, adopted that year. What should Jerry and Mary have been asked about? Oh, stuff like this:

“With [fracking] techniques spreading to other nations, the planet appears headed for decades of cheap fossil fuels. It used to be odd to think that AB 32 would inspire China, India and other nations with rapidly growing economies to hit the brakes by shifting to costlier forms of energy. In this new era, it is ludicrous.

“Instead of pining for a world that will never be, Brown, Nichols and other environmentalists should focus on urgent research to find new ways to mitigate the impact of fossil fuels on the atmosphere.

“Instead, however, they appear content to have California be the guinea pig for an experiment that has already failed. The rest of the world didn’t copy AB 32 and the Golden State. So what will our shift to cleaner-but-much-costlier energy portend? [An] economy with heavy unique costs not shared by rivals.

“Put away the party hats. This is not something to celebrate.”

 That’s from my U-T San Diego editorial. Read it all here.

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