south belridge1

Kern County's South Belridge Oil Field is among the most productive in California.

A new study questions the wisdom of California energy policies aimed at fighting climate change, concluding that their economic toll has been steep despite achieving unimpressive greenhouse-gas reductions.

Produced by a free-market think tank and funded in part by a pro-energy-industry nonprofit, the report suggests the Golden State might be better off making greater use of natural gas and nuclear power to generate electricity rather than promoting renewable power in all cases.

The findings are likely to resonate in Kern County, where some of the environmental policies targeted in the study have been unpopular with some local oil industry leaders.

One of the study's key findings is an estimate that consumers in the state would save more than $2,000 per year on average if California's clean-energy mandates were eliminated.

Making estimates based on federal data, author Wayne Winegarden also found the rest of the country did significantly better than California — 14 percent versus 9 percent, respectively — at cutting carbon dioxide emissions between 2007 and 2017.

He wrote that, during about the same period, California made less progress in lowering the carbon intensity of its fuel than the country as a whole — a 3.8-percent reduction versus 9.7 percent, respectively — even if you exclude Northeastern states where a regional cap-and-trade program has easily outpaced California's progress.

Winegarden said Thursday electricity and fuel costs elevated by state's energy policies will go back down again if certain mandates are removed.

He specifically mentioned California's cap-and-trade program, which forces emitters to buy clean-air credits; a requirement that investor-owned utilities source much of their electricity from renewable sources; and net metering, which requires utilities to buy excess power generated by rooftop solar panels.

"The opportunity is eliminating the policies,” he said last week. “Any loosening will help to realize at least some portion of these savings.”

An environmental justice group active locally said the report overlooks negative health impacts associated with traditional energy production. Besides fighting climate change, regulating greenhouse-gas emissions reduces pollution harmful to human health, according to the executive director of the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment.

"The study fails to account for the economic costs of pollution which falls on the public, particularly low-income communities and communities of color, who pay for it in terms of health costs, lost school days and premature death," Caroline Farrell wrote in an email.

Monica Embrey, associate director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Dirty Fuels campaign, said by email that Californians need clean air and water, not handouts to the fossil fuel industry.

"Slashing environmental protections would only serve to make oil executives richer while our families pay the price with our health and safety," she wrote.

She added that if oil industry-fueled economic growth has declined in Kern County, "it has nothing to do with environmental regulation and everything to do with international oil politics, the pandemic and the decline of easy-to-extract oil."

The California Energy Commission, an arm of state government that helps carry out Sacramento's policy goals, declined to comment on the study.

The report was produced by San Francisco-based think tank Pacific Research Institute and funded in part by Power the Future, a nonprofit active in Alaska, California, Colorado and New Mexico.

Recommended for you

(10) comments

Veritas

I figured I could draw the local SC president out by stating a fact they don’t like. In typical verbose fashion he has to write the same tired partisan prose to dance around the topic at hand. Not surprised, just disappointed.

Gene Pool Chlorinator

@Veritas- exactly, should've seen that coming a mile away, but always nice to give someone a chance to shock- even if they don't take the opportunity...

Zeppo

Drill, baby, drill...…..

Stephen

The report cited here makes a good case… so long as you don't consider the costs in health and lives. But for some, including our president, those who die for the cause of power and profit are, as President Trump said the other day, like "warriors." Me? Those causes aren't worth my life.

Today my flag is flying for our military heroes who gave it all in defense of this country. I don't anticipate a "memorial day" being declared for people who die for the reelection of our anti-science president or the profits of the fossil fuel industry.

I see right wing populists don't like this story because the author had the temerity to tell the other sides exposing facts neglected by the report they find unpleasant. In fact, this story is a good example of what sound professional journalism is about. Compare this to the one sided Pablum you get from social media including the one sided propaganda we get listening to right wing talk radio or Fox News talk shows.

Zeppo

Stephen: The entire media was WRONG on the Russia-Trump lie, yet you dismiss talk radio or Fox News? Are you delusional? Are you aware of the attempt by the media and Democrats to oust, via using the intelligence forces against him, a duly elected President? You okay with that????

Gene Pool Chlorinator

Stephen, you're as much of a partisan as there is here, you just think if you're a little more verbose and flex a better vocabulary than say, Dweeb, that people won't notice.

Wrong.

If I had a buck for every time you used "right wing populists", I'd be able to retire.

Why don't you be honest and discuss the "one sided propaganda" we get from MSNBC or CNN?

Zeppo

If you listened to Fox News, you would realize that you get to hear ALL sides of an issue, not just the side that pleases your ideology. Also, if you cannot see that one of the main reasons that it's called "fake news" is that for over 3 yrs. and millions of dollars, we heard about a FAKE story about Russia and Trump and turned out to be completely fake, yet all of YOUR preferred stations reported on it as if it were true. If you cannot see that the intelligence forces of the U.S. were used to try to take down the Trump Administration, I have no hope for you...…..

Veritas

Leave it to the Sierra Club to follow a lie with some truths. Over regulation has in fact contributed to the oil industries economic decline. How big of an impact is arguable but it has contributed.

Independent Voter

Heh.

Moardeeb

Wow, it takes a real genius of a journalist to figure out that staying home and not spending money has consequences like hurting the economy and consumers. Who would've thought? What an obvious and imbecilic attempt at "news"?

Welcome to the discussion.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Effective Sept. 30, story commenting on Bakersfield.com will end. Read Executive Editor Christine L. Peterson's Sound Off for details.

https://www.bakersfield.com/columnists/christine-peterson/sound-off-its-time-to-say-goodbye-to-story-comments/article_af1cd14c-f917-11ea-8dbc-a3944b6d9d56.html

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.