AB32, Big Oil & Governor Schwarzenegger’s Dilemma: David Fridley (PCI, CHINA ENERGY GROUP) Weighs In
David Fridley 2010-05-12
Santa Rosa, CA (12. May 2010) David Fridley, Renewable Energy & Biofuels Fellow for the Post Carbon Institute as well as deputy group leader and scientist for China Energy Group, offers his insights on three key issues that weigh on California’s energy and economic future.
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Post Carbon Institute’s Renewable Energy & Biofuels Fellow David Fridley has been a staff scientist at the Energy Analysis Program at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California since 1996. He is also deputy group leader of Lawrence Berkeley's China Energy Group, which collaborates with China on end-user energy efficiency, government energy management programs, and energy policy research. He spent 12 years working in the petroleum industry both as a consultant on downstream oil markets in the Asia-Pacific region and as business development manager for Caltex China.
Easy Voter Manipulation = AB32 Suspension
“I am somewhat pessimistic about the fate of AB32 suspension measure on the November ballot, and I don’t think that the Governor has the ability to sway the vote, since it is very cleverly cast as a measure about jobs. It’s just as cynical in its presentation as the PG&E-sponsored measure (Proposition 16) increasing the barriers to community choice aggregation in electricity supply is by casting it as a measure to give voters the power to choose how their tax money is being spent.
“With unemployment and underemployment now at over 20% and further widespread cuts in education and services coming by July because of the ballooning state deficit, and with AB32 being constantly cast as a job-killing bill (not to mention the remarkable proportion of people who don’t believe in global warming), I think the measure may well have a good chance at passing. The condition laid out in the suspension measure (4 quarters of 5.5% unemployment or less) is now becoming a tool in the Republican playbook in Sacramento. They recently used it again in a separate bill calling for the suspension of efficiency requirements for televisions sold in California. This to me shows how the Republicans are expecting voter sentiment to go given the high rate of state unemployment.”
Shwarzenegger vs. Big Oil
“The offshore drilling situation is complicated since the Governor can only legally restrict drilling in the offshore areas within 3 miles of the coast; the Federal government controls the rest. The agreement that is to be scuttled concerned a field that straddles both state and federal waters. There is some disappointment in its overturn since it would have also set a date for the ceasing of existing operations and would have funded some alternative energy and transport projects, but the disaster in the Gulf is just far too visible for anyone now to be vocally in support of any drilling program.”
Oil Tanker vs. Offshore Well: Fridley Compares Environmental Risks
“Is offshore drilling environmentally responsible? This is a multifaceted problem. California produces about 1/3rd of its crude consumption today, with the balance coming from Alaska and overseas (with Saudi Arabia, Ecuador, and Iraq being the largest foreign suppliers). This means that there are large oil tankers arriving in California almost daily, and these tankers can pose as much of a threat of an environmental disaster as a spill from an offshore oil well. But California and Alaskan production peaked some time ago (California peaked in 1985), so we face a future of even higher levels of tanker traffic (the California Energy Commission forecasts 100-250 additional tanker visits annually by 2030, depending on the size of the ship, and up to 175 additional visits by 2020) as domestic production continues to fall. But even with additional offshore drilling here, it would not make up for continued decline in California and Alaska production, so imports would need to continue in any case, though it would serve to reduce tanker traffic. What this suggests is that the only truly environmentally responsible way for California to minimize the threat of future damage from oil spills is to cut consumption of oil, and this state is woefully unprepared to deal with this third option, although it will come about, either through intention or as a consequence of declining global production.”
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