Brown Vs. Green: Clash Of The Titans In California

  • Date: 05/02/13
  • Walter Russell Mead, Via Meadia

Massive shale oil reserves could give California one of the biggest oil booms on Earth, but the uber-powerful California green lobby is gearing up for the fight of its life. The stakes of the battle could be huge, reports the New York Times. Hundreds of thousands of high-paying jobs for Californians, versus environmental concerns about fracking, pipelines, and greenhouse gasses.

The Monterey Shale formation, stretching 1,750 square miles from southern to central California, constitutes two-thirds of the country’s total estimated shale oil reserves. That’s an estimated 15.4 billion barrels, or four times as much as the Bakken Shale reserves in North Dakota, whose exploitation can now be seen from space.

But the green lobby will prove a formidable opponent to the oil and gas companies jostling for a piece of this giant pie. It is already hard at work trying to keep California’s newly recoverable energy reserves in the ground: Two powerhouse lobbies are suing the Bureau of Land Management and the Department of Conservation to prevent further exploration of the Monterey Shale and impose stricter regulations on fracking.

The intrigues in this drama are many. Does California’s Democratic Party come down on the side of low income Californians, who desperately need the jobs and state services new oil extraction will fund? Or does it come down on the side of a green lobby that is heavily backed by some of the wealthiest people in the state? To what extent does the wealthy coastal elite control the future of the inland poor in California? Can the GOP use the issue as a wedge to rebuild its credibility in a state it once dominated? Will black gold bail out big blue California?

Bring lots of popcorn. This is going to be a terrific show.

Via Meadia, 4 February 2013