Benefits of Arroyo Grande oil wells outweigh impacts
May 9, 2012
OPINION By ROCK ZIERMAN
Last weekend, Japan shut down the last of its 50 nuclear power plants that have provided power to the island nation since 1966. As a result, they will be at the mercy of energy imports from other countries.
The United States, on the other hand, is the master of its own destiny when it comes to its energy future. New technology and discoveries have vastly increased our domestic reserves of both oil and natural gas. But we have to have the courage and tenacity to harness these domestic sources of energy if we want to avoid the crippling dependence Japan and many other energy poor countries face.
Many parts of the country have embraced this growing energy independence. North Dakota’s oil production has tripled since 2007 and it surpassed California this year as the third largest oil-producing state.
North Dakota now has recoverable reserves of over 24 billion barrels. Coupled with increases in other oil-producing states, this has resulted in the United States importing just 45 percent of the liquid fuels it used, down from a record high of 60 percent in 2005. This has resulted in a 20 percent decrease of imports from OPEC countries, not to mention thousands of new jobs, billions in new tax revenues, and a shrinking trade deficit.
California, on the other hand, has not kept pace with our fellow oil-producing states. Oil production has been on a steady decline in California for two decades. Is that a result of our state running out of reserves to produce? Hardly. The Energy Information Administration estimates that California’s Monterey Shale may possess five times the oil as North Dakota’s Bakken Shale. Instead, much of the problem is man-made.
San Luis Obispo County Planning Commissioners recently rejected a state of the art oil production project by Excelaron in the rural hills of the Huasna Field. This is a historic oil producing location that up until very recently had oil production equipment on site.
Excelaron has worked with county staff and residents to identify and minimize environmental issues. In fact, the environmental impact report of the project found that the Excelaron project has less than half the impacts as two solar projects in the county. If a project can’t be approved in such a compatible location, where can it be approved?
Given that California’s crude is refined into gasoline, diesel, plastics, and asphalt and only .002 percent of our vehicle fleet is electric, wind and solar do not provide an alternative to domestically produced oil today. Only imports from foreign countries, many in unstable regions, can make up for the production lost when projects like Excelaron’s are rejected. We should harness our energy future and begin by giving the Excelaron project another look.
Rock Zierman is the CEO of the California Independent Petroleum Association.