New Poll Shows Californians Support Monterey Shale Development
The campaign to halt responsible energy development in California – a campaign driven by fringe activists who generally live far from the unemployment-ravaged San Joaquin Valley – is not gaining traction with California citizens who understand that our energy industry is a critical driver of jobs, revenue and economic growth.
That’s the clear finding of a new poll released by the California Business Roundtable and the Pepperdine University School of Public Policy. It reveals that registered voters, both Republicans and Democrats, support expanding development of the Monterey Shale using hydraulic fracturing by a wide margin of 16 percentage points. Voters also favored easing environmental regulations on oil extraction and refining if it reduces gasoline prices and increases jobs.
This result is not surprising in a state where voters see fringe activists putting the needs of a small fish above the survival of California farms, and where the experience of high gas prices and inadequate state revenues impact the average citizen directly in a way that barely touches the architects of a well-funded campaign of ideologically motivated lobbying and litigation aimed at keeping gas prices high and farm land fallow.
It is also not surprising because voters know that the energy industry has been part of the economic engine of the Golden State for more than a century, and it has given us good jobs and home-grown energy in a highly regulated and conservation-conscious environment.
A recently released study from the University of Southern California offers comprehensive detail on the economic potential of the Monterey Shale, possibly the largest shale formation in the United States. The study estimates development could create as many as 2.8 million new jobs and generate up to $24.6 billion of tax revenue by 2020. Even a fraction of those estimates would give the state, and especially the Central Valley, a huge economic boost.
A deeper look at the California Business Roundtable and Pepperdine poll tells an even more compelling story. Among Latinos, a full 54 percent favor further exploring the Monterey Shale, while only 27 percent oppose it. Even among California Democrats, more support tapping the state’s shale reserve, than oppose it. Among Republicans surveyed, 66 percent are in favor of exploring shale compared to 15 percent who oppose it.
Finally, it is noteworthy that less than half of respondents support an oil severance tax, seemingly recognizing that it would kill thousands of jobs and increase gas prices, as it has in other states.
The poll is an overwhelming repudiation of the misleading activist campaign to put the brakes on a robust oil and gas industry in California. Regular voters just aren’t buying it, nor should they. They know that energy development – with all of its economic benefits – has coexisted with environmental conservation for decades in California. And they – like Governor Brown, state regulators, and even President Obama – want the responsible development of domestic energy to continue as a way to create jobs, fill state offers, reduce our dependence on foreign oil and, not least, protect our environment.