Dear Governor Newsom:
The undersigned California Counties respectfully urge Governor Newsom and the California Legislature to take all necessary actions to allow and assist with the expanded production of oil leases within the State of California to help alleviate record energy prices and to provide for domestic energy security.
On February 24, 2022, the nation of Russia invaded the neighboring nation of Ukraine. The action has drawn enormous global condemnation with more than 140 nations censuring the action to restrict or ban the importation of Russian-made goods and services, including embargos on Russian oil, liquefied natural gas, and coal. On March 8, 2022, President Joe Biden signed an executive order officially banning these Russian energy imports to the United States.
As a result of the pandemic and policies related to domestic energy production, energy prices across the nation have more than doubled in the last year. The average US price of gasoline hit a new record of $4.104 per gallon even before the executive order restricting Russian oil was announced. In the State of California energy prices have soared far higher than the national average. These prices are expected to continue to climb sharply for the foreseeable future.
California consumes more than 1.6 million barrels of oil per day and a majority of all vehicle miles traveled in California are powered by fossil fuels. California also is the second largest consumer of petroleum products in the nation and the largest consumer of gasoline and jet fuel. California is the world's 5th largest economy, and reliable, affordable energy is critical for that economy. The realities of today's current record fuel prices are crippling millions of Californians who rely on their cars for work, school, and commerce. The high price of fuel is rippling through our agriculture, transportation and construction sectors, and is accelerating already high rates of inflation.
But California's policies to divest of fossil fuels without an available alternative has forced the state to become ever more reliant on foreign sources. California oil production has fallen to an average of 501,000 barrels per day, not even a third of our consumption needs. With no interstate infrastructure to connect to other oil producing states, all oil we don't produce has to be shipped from overseas, and California is eight times more dependent on these foreign sources than we were only thirty years ago.
According to the California Energy Commission, in 2021 California imported over 290 million barrels of oil from foreign sources. Russia accounted for nearly 18 million of those barrels, approximately 6% of total imports. The cost of California's dependence on imported oil is more than $25 billion every year. In addition, foreign oil must be delivered by oil tankers, each traveling an average 8,865 miles to reach California ports. The largest oil tanker ships burn nearly 4 tons of low-grade, high-sulfur fuel each day they are anchored and each ship can emit 11 tons of carbon dioxide per day. Oil tanker ships account for 13% of global marine CO2 emissions, and California's dependence on imported oil is a major contributor to this pollution.
California's climate change goals will not be achieved overnight. In the meantime, California's reliance on foreign energy sources is contributing to the global climate crisis. Oil production in California is cleaner, safer, more reliable than foreign sources, and is an economic benefit through economic growth, jobs, and property taxes.
Not all California counties are oil producers or refiners, but all 58 California counties and their citizens are suffering the sharp pain of rising energy costs. Every family, every business, every industry depends on affordable energy. We urge you to take immediate action to expand oil production for every Californian.
Brian Pacheco, Freno County Chairman
Tom Wheeler, Madera County Chairman
Loyd Pareira, Merced County Chairman
Eddie Valero, Tulare County Chairman