Santa Maria Sun / Letter To The Editor
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 25
Oil equals jobsSanta Maria
I wish to commend Jeremy Thomas for his balanced and well-researched article, Black gold? (Aug. 23). While the article is generally based in objective fact, I find it necessary to respond to some of the misinformation proffered by Nathan Alley, staff attorney for the Environmental Defense Center (EDC). Specifically, “According to Alley ... Oil produced locally is eventually shipped off to Los Angeles and San Francisco ... where it enters the global market and can end up anywhere.”
Please consider these facts: It costs a lot of money to move oil from wellhead to the refinery to the end user. Dollars spent on transportation reduce profits. Given that California imports more than 60 percent of the crude oil it uses each day, ask yourself what would be the rationale behind exchanging a lower-cost product—oil produced in California that can be cheaply transported via pipelines to in-state refineries (thereby also saving emissions)—for a higher cost product, such as oil or gasoline brought from faraway places via tankers, trains, and trucks?
With our economy in the doldrums, we need to produce more oil locally and refine more gasoline in the state. Both activities produce high-paying jobs and generate significant tax revenues, and, by the way, help reduce global emissions. Which brings to mind another standard half-truth told and retold by those who are ideologically opposed to oil, which is that oil produced here is only good for asphalt. It is a nice sound bite but it is simply not true. It is predicated upon a superficial awareness that local crudes are often “heavy,” lower-quality crudes. Consider the following excerpts from Exxon’s webpage: The crude supply for Exxon’s Torrance refinery is “some of the heaviest crude oil in the world” and “more than 70 percent of each barrel is refined into high quality, specially formulated, low-emissions gasoline and sold in Southern California, Arizona and Nevada. Other products ... include jet fuel, diesel fuel, liquefied petroleum gases (LPG), coke and sulfur.”
Finally, I must comment upon Mr. Alley’s apparent willingness—in these times of high unemployment—to ignore the very real jobs that responsible development will bring. The jobs and taxes to be generated from oil development and production equate to large numbers. Instead of focusing on putting people back to work and increasing our local tax base, Mr. Alley wishes to focus on another number, the “85,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases” that the Santa Maria Energy (SME) project featured in the story would generate. Once again, Mr. Alley is using some sleight of hand.
Some facts for your consideration: The SME project will be subject to the California Global Climate Solutions Act of 2006, also known as A.B. 32. A.B. 32 requires the reduction of greenhouse gases statewide to 1990 levels by the year 2020. In mandating the 2020 greenhouse gas target levels, the law takes into account all existing and future or projected greenhouse gases in the state, including new development such as SME’s project. Being consistent with A.B. 32’s emission reduction target means that SME’s project is not part of the problem; it is part of the solution to the problem.
Finally, please take note of recent reports in newspapers across the country, which have trumpeted the fact that C02 emissions in the U.S. have dropped to their lowest levels in 20 years. Why? Because we have developed so much natural gas (a fossil fuel-like oil). An oversupply of the product has driven prices so low that natural gas is becoming the preferred fuel with which to generate electricity. In turn, that is reducing C02 levels. In fact, one could say that drilling and producing natural gas has done more to reduce C02 levels than governmental regulation. Let’s see what drilling and producing more oil can do for us.
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