Boom: California greens try, fail to pass a fracking moratorium

I somehow managed to completely miss this from a couple of weeks back, but it’s an especially interesting and kind of epic piece of news from a state that’s home to some of the largest, most cultishly do-or-die green interests in the country and a legislature currently dominated by a liberal supermajority. When I first caught wind of the fact that Californians were getting ready to introduce a proposal to ban fracking, I suspected that they would definitely have a fighting chance of getting the thing passed — but it turns out that enough of California’s legislators are at least somewhat tuned in to the economic realities of hydraulic fracturing, and enough so to thwart the often overwhelming clout of the state’s many eco-lobbies.

Some quick background: At the moment, California is the fourth-largest oil producing state in the union, but production has been steadily declining while the state has been dropping plenty of cash on forcibly integrating wind and solar into their energy grid. California is also sittin’ pretty atop the as-yet untapped Monterey Shale, a formation estimated to be several times bigger than the Bakken Shale formation currently delivering an economic boom to North Dakota. The oil and gas industry isn’t quite there yet with the technology that would make extracting the formation’s resources economically worthwhile, but with the innovative leaps and bounds hydraulic fracturing has accomplished in just a few short years, it’s only a matter of time — and a moratorium would preemptively shut the whole thing down.

While wealthy and self-fancied green Californian districts seem all too ready to cut the opportunities off at the knees, poorer regions were noticeably less keen on a potential fracking ban. The WSJ knows what’s up:

Democratic leaders brought their fracking moratorium bill to the Assembly floor last week, and their rank and file revolted. The bill lost 37-24, with 12 Democrats joining 25 Republicans to defeat it. Another 18 Democrats abstained, and it’s a good bet they were “no” votes who didn’t want to publicly cross their leadership. This was a rare rout of the Sierra Club and other greens that denounce “fracking” for polluting water and inducing earthquakes, among other horrors. They blamed the oil and gas lobby, but that hides the real story.

The votes for the fracking ban came mainly from the wealthy, mostly white Democratic coastal districts—San Francisco, Santa Monica and Malibu. Opponents were mostly from central California, areas that are poor and minority, with rates of unemployment of 12% or more. …

A study by University of Southern California scientists funded by the oil industry estimates fracking would deliver 500,000 jobs over the next several years and $24.6 billion in state and local tax revenue in 2020 alone. If those numbers are even close to accurate, drilling could be a financial salvation for a state that has $167.9 billion in long-term liabilities…

Expect to continue to see the eco-zealots continuing to work their tailfeathers off impose deliberately onerous regulations on hydraulic fracturing and to sue oil and gas companies for various offenses, real or imagined, while they continue to completely ignore that their state is awash with debt and joblessness and the fact that the natural gas that could come out of increased hydraulic fracturing is one of the most effective and economical methods we’ve yet discovered for reducing the carbon emissions they claim to loathe so much.

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