In a normally managed state, news of a ban on oil imports from Russia — and gas prices that are nailing local residents to the tune of $6 or more a gallon in some cities — would spur officials to ramp up production of local oil reserves. California, as Climate Change News reported, is the nation’s seventh-largest oil producer — the 27th largest in the world, if it were its own country. So jump-starting production would tap a gusher of good sense.

Instead, California is doubling down on its stated policy of shutting down its current oil-production capacity. In his annual State of the State address on Tuesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom agreed to include a modest gas-tax rebate in his May budget revision, but he stridently rejected Republican calls for him to increase oil extraction at home. He called his approach the “California way,” which is an unfortunately accurate depiction of his policy.

The Newsom administration routinely addresses major real-world issues that are harming California residents by focusing on utopian policies that maybe someday will fix things. Are there 100-plus container ships idling off the coast? Well, let’s invest millions of dollars into electric vehicles at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Is water in short supply? Are wildfires out of control? Let’s impose more carbon-emission rules and reorder the Earth’s climate.

“At a time when we’ve been heating up and burning up, one thing we cannot do is repeat the mistakes of the past by embracing polluters, drilling even more, which only leads to more extreme weather, more extreme drought, more wildfire,” Newsom said in his address. The state will instead speed up its move away from fossil fuels, and perhaps in 30 years Californians will no longer be dependent on gasoline.

In other words, Californians should get used to exorbitant gas prices, which already are high because of our state’s specially mandated fuel formulation. The Natural Resources Defense Council, which is worried about the state’s remaining level of oil production, reported in 2020 that California exports more than 200,000 barrels of refined products per day — so California’s purposeful move away from oil production will affect the rest of the nation, as well.

And because wind farms and electric vehicles have yet to make a huge dent in our habits, California is increasingly dependent on foreign oil — and the more such oil that flows to California, the less that will be available elsewhere. Note that California had been the nation’s third-largest oil producer, but is falling rapidly thanks to this dedicated government policy.

“As a result, while much of the U.S. has become far less dependent on foreign crude oil, California remains at the whims of foreign powers,” wrote Robert Rapier in a 2019 Forbes article. “This vulnerability is a big reason the U.S. reacts to defend supplies that move through easily attacked shipping routes.” That has broad implications for America’s security, as the current Russian-Ukraine situation makes clear.

Again, this situation is by design. The state’s Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) notes that it “is committed to protecting public health, safety, and the environment as we regulate the drilling, operation, and eventual permanent closure of oil, gas, and geothermal wells (italics added). While California is a top-10 oil-producing state, production has been declining since the mid-1980s. CalGEM is tasked with advancing California’s goal to become carbon-neutral by 2045.”

The state of California is actively promoting the decline of one of its larger industries — and one that directly creates at least 150,000 jobs mostly in the impoverished Central Valley — to pursue its climate goals. Recent administrations have taken a variety of approaches to reduce gasoline production, but the end goal remains the same.

The governor “used his gubernatorial power to order that no new state fracking permits be issued starting in 2024,” Los Angeles Times’ George Skelton explained. “He also ordered the California Air Resources Board to plan for the phasing out of oil extraction ‘no later than 2045.’” He also plans “to ban the sale of new gas-powered vehicles by 2035.”

Lawmakers continue to push the state to ban, or at least limit, offshore drilling. In fact, after a recent oil spill in Orange County, Democrats authored a state bill to shutter 11 leases by 2024. Yet the Coast Guard is investigating whether a backlogged ship’s anchor might have disrupted an oil pipeline and caused the recent 144,000-gallon OC spill, according to news reports. While the government’s inaction in fixing the port backlog might be to blame, lawmakers use the spill to call for drilling cutbacks.

U.S. House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, recently sent a letter to Newsom calling for him to increase oil production. “[T]here are more than 1,000 pending permits for new oil and natural gas wells sitting on the desk of your State Oil and Gas Supervisors that can be approved today … [that] will only help California consumers and reduce any need for imported Russian oil,” he wrote.

That makes sense, but it assumes that Newsom is like a normal governor and wants to do something about the problem. The evidence suggests otherwise.

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