The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

April 5, 2010
Should California open its waters to further oil extraction?
oil_rig_california_offshore_calm_sea1.jpgIn yesterday's New York Times, energy consultant Michael Lynch argues that Obama's oil drilling plan is a "bold political move" but won't do much to reduce the nation's dependence on imported oil, unless...

We go for oil off the California coast...

Lynch, the former director of the Asian energy and security working group at the Center for International Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, writes:

We know from earlier operations that it (California) has significantly more resources than the all the newly opened areas combined. Yet most extraction there came to an abrupt halt in January 1969, after a Union Oil platform off Santa Barbara spilled more than 80,000 barrels into the ocean. There are still 40 or so active leases there that now produce some 40 million barrels a year safely. They have given us a good understanding of the geology, thus exploration would be quicker and less costly than in unknown areas, and the return more certain.

This area, especially off Southern California, has an estimated 7.5 billion to 14 billion barrels of oil and 13 trillion to 24 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. It could probably generate as much revenue as the other newly released areas combined; the oil, not having to be piped from northern Alaska, would be cheaper to harvest. While California drilling is one of the third rails of American politics, the federal government forgoing at least $20 billion a year in taxes seems unwise.

What do you think? While I'm no fan of increased consumption of fossil fuels, California's imports of oil have increased 25 percent since 1995, with much of that oil coming from far-flung places such as Ecuador. Is it time to at least consider additional oil extraction off the state's coast? If it were coupled with retiring old oil platforms and pumping tax revenues into California's depleted coffers, would you support it? Where do you stand?


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About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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