Daniel Turner

California has become the epicenter of the left-wing resistance to Donald Trump. When the president made his first trip to the Golden State last week, he was greeted with the predictable protests and outrage.

The state’s many ambitious politicians, some with their eyes set on higher office, continue a slew of hyperbolic statements. Arnold Schwarzenegger made headlines this week for a nonsensical stunt threatening to sue energy companies for “first degree murder”. Governor Brown, a three-time presidential candidate, continues to jet set around the world pushing his pet issue of global warming. Rising national star Senator Kamala Harris, while California’s attorney general, made news when she opened official inquiries into Exxon Mobil.

The common thread in all these figures is the constant abuse of California’s energy industry. Disregarding the more than 300,000 people it employs and the more than $100 billion it generates in tax revenue, left wing politicians jump on the anti-energy train to appease one man: Tom Steyer.

The billionaire environmentalist is the key to heaps of campaign cash. During the 2014 midterms, the Democrat senators pulled an all-nighter to appease him on his favorite issue: climate change. He would later spend more than $70 million on Democrats that cycle. The Democrats would go on to lose the Senate.

Since then, Steyer has spent tens of millions of dollars on left-wing causes. He launched a nationwide television and digital campaign last fall calling on members of Congress to impeach President Trump. Steyer has pledged to spend as much as $30 million on this effort.

When Steyer first dipped his toe into the political waters, he faced allegations of hypocrisy. After all, before advocating for the elimination of the coal industry, Steyer amassed his personal fortune at the hedge fund he founded, Farallon Capital Management, on the backs of coal miners. By the time Steyer departed Farallon after 25 years of work, the New York Times reported that companies he had invested in had produced 70 million tons of coal annually. According to a report in 2013, Farallon had nearly half a billion dollars –or ten percent of its equity portfolio –invested in oil and gas on Steyer’s watch. His intenions may not be totally pure: just a few years ago he called the green energy policies he champions an “opportunity to make a lot of money.”

Two weeks ago, Steyer kicked off a 30-city tour spreading his impeachment message to key electoral swing states. His rhetoric should be met with distrust and skepticism; regardless of what he says, his money and influence have inhibited energy progress right in his home state of California. The regulations pushed by Steyer and his paid activists are inhibiting progress. Kern County produces more oil than any other county in the country. Monterey Shale is a largely untapped oil reserve that Steyer funded environmentalist groups like The Center For Biological Diversity and The Sierra Club have vehemently fought even basic exploration. Steyer has led the charge, publicly demanding energy companies stop their efforts to tap into this amazing potential resource.

Rather than celebrate the energy and 12,000 related industry jobs in Bakersfield, he continues spending millions pushing an agenda that would put these hard-working people out of business.

Unfortunately, Steyer isn’t the only problem. Gavin Newsom, one of the leading candidates to become California’s next governor, is running on a platform calling for the complete end of the oil and gas industry by 2050, which would devastate Bakersfield specifically, and the entire state’s economy. Campaign bumper sticker slogans make terrible policy.

Across the nation are small towns who are victim of Steyer’s ideological activism. Once prosperous communities now face poverty, unemployment, depleted funding for education and civic activities, declining home prices, and drug addiction. It’s no surprise the opioid epidemic is worst in rural communities where unemployment and depression are rampant. That is the fruit of Tom Steyer’s environmentalism, regardless of his intentions.

As Tom Steyer, Jerry Brown, Kamala Harris and many others pursue 2020 presidential aspirations, the people of Bakersfield should take warning. Rather than threaten your jobs with ill-advised lawsuits and policy proposals, they should be saying thank you.

Daniel Turner is the executive drector of Power The Future, a national nonprofit organization that advocates for American energy jobs.