First Proposition 37 and now this. Wonders never cease in California where environmental advocates had introduced legislation that would effectively ban hydraulic fracking in that state. California is the nation's fourth largest crude oil producer, and the home of recent Monterey Shale discoveries that are thought to rival the Bakken in production potential.
The bill was rebuffed by a 37-24 margin with 18 democrats abstaining -- these are assumed to be 'no' votes that did not want to cross party leaders. The real story is how the vote was decided. The votes in favor of banning fracking came from wealthy, mostly white districts while impoverished regions of the interior -- which languish around 12% unemployment -- voted solidly against the ban.
Despite California's increased concentration on wind and solar energy sources, the wealth of petroleum liquids under California in the Monterey Shale pose an attractive prospect and a cleaner energy source than enviros appear willing to admit. California is currently deep in the economic red, owing $167.9 billion in long term debt. Experts from USC estimate that fracking holds the potential of creating 500,000 jobs and generating a projected $24.6 billion in state and local revenue in the year 2020 alone.
Given the recent nature of the Monterey discovery, it will take time to obtain permits and equipment, arrange transport and establish distribution hubs, leaving fracking wide open to more enviro-pot-shots in the mean time. We have certainly not heard the last from California's anti-fracking lobby, but the good guys have scored two promising hits in the last year, first by voting down the mandatory labeling of GMOs bill -- Prop 37 -- and now, voting to allow fracking.
All of this suggests that common sense has found a foothold in California and for residents living under a heavy economic burden, hope springs eternal from the Monterey Shale.