Much has been written about how public sector unions, bloated pension plans, government waste, and poor fiscal planning led to California cities like Stockton, Mammoth Lakes, and San Bernardino to end up bankrupt. Many other California cities — especially in the Inland Empire area — are on the verge of fiscal insolvency.
What has not been discussed as much, though, has been how California’s green energy and environmentalist policies may have contributed to pushing these cities closer to bankruptcy and depressing their economies.
Joel Kotkin at The Daily Beast writes that many of California’s most energy-rich cities are among its poorest because they are shackled by laws and regulations that prevent them from capitalizing on their energy reserves.
Kotkin writes that “nowhere is the element of choice inherent in energy policy more evident than in California, where green energy elites and their environmentalist policies have stunted California’s energy production even though the state “has double-digit unemployment, a collapsed inland economy and a series of bankrupt municipalities.”
“Such inattention to California’s resources may be popular in wealthy precincts of Silicon Valley, San Francisco and west Los Angeles, but the state’s green approach has helped place traditionally manufacturing-oriented communities such as Oakland, east Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Stockton in deep distress,” Kotkin writes. “Despite central California’s vast deposits of oil and gas, unemployment rates in some oil-rich areas there are over 15 and sometimes even 20 percent.”
According to Kotkin, an economic forecaster, Bill Watkins, told an audience in Santa Maria, CA, “If you were in Texas, you’d be rich.”
Watkins is right.
According to The Jerusalem Post, oil companies believe there are “undiscovered resources” within California, since the “Golden State is already home to five of the 12 largest oil fields in the US, and the California Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources estimates that more than 35 billion barrels of oil equivalent overall have been discovered in the state so far.”
This amount of oil, according to the Jerusalem Post, “is roughly equivalent to the proven reserves of Nigeria, the world’s 10th-largest oil producer,” and in the San Joaquin Valley in California alone, about 20 billion barrels of oil have been discovered.
In light of this data, Walter Russell Mead writes that the “green energy bias” is killing California, and “destroying the economic hopes of low income people in order to stoke the self esteem of entitled Boomers” just shows “how backwards” the “exalted moral standards of the California elites” are.
“Millions of low income California residents are trapped in decaying cities where, thanks in large part to narcissistic green unicorn chasers, the manufacturing base has withered away,” Mead writes, before predicting that “in the long run, California is too richly endowed and its people too dynamic for the self-defeating policies of the green elites to prevail. Either the governing class of California tires of unicorn hunts, or at some point the people of California will get tired of their governing class.”
Mead warns, though, that the “the current suicidal policy mix means that sooner rather than later, California will run out of the money needed to maintain the illusions of its governing elites and the whole elaborate system of sham and deception will blow away.”
In the meantime, though, California’s environmentalist agenda continues to deprive many of its struggling municipalities with much-needed jobs.