The California Influencer Series

‘Cost savings mean nothing on a dead planet.’ Strong California opinions on offshore oil drilling

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The California Influencers Series

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California Influencers largely oppose the Trump Administration’s recent announcement of plans to expand offshore oil drilling, saying it wouldn’t be worth it even if gas cost less and energy bills went down.

Jim Newton — Lecturer of Public Policy, UCLA

“Absolutely not. California would be better served by a carbon tax that would raise, not lower, the price of gasoline and encourage development of renewable energy.”

Dorothy Rothrock — President, California Manufacturers and Technology Association

“Oil drilling should be considered like any other development project - can it be done in a manner that is safe for the environment and comply with all appropriate regulations?”

Manuel Pastor Director of Program for USC Environmental and Regional Equity

“In a word, no — and I’m also not sure the premise of (or trade-off in) the question is correct. California is seeking to lead on renewable and as it does, those sectors develop and the cost curve bends in; that seems like a better approach than risking our shorelines.”

Pete Wilson — California Governor (1991-1999)

“The California coastline is a national treasure. Both the federal and state governments have invested substantial resources to preserve and enhance it. Our Coastline also contains valuable resources available for economic activity and the enjoyment by citizens in our state and by visitors from around the nation and the world. We need not risk new drilling in areas offshore that pose a significant and needless threat.

“Instead, this country has found ample new onshore resources and slant drilling onshore, done properly, has demonstrated the ability to tap new reserves without creating needless risk. Increased energy production allows us to avoid reliance on uncertain and unstable foreign supplies from countries strongly opposed to US policies. And will allow us to employ a technology that will employ many high wage, blue collar, middle class jobs that present state restrictions have or will eliminate.

“State law should permit such employment rather than a California that has fallen to sixth in production among all states, eliminating those needed jobs and revenues.”

Bonnie Castillo — Executive Director, California Nurses Association

“Cost savings mean nothing on a dead planet. No. Nurses do not support oil drilling off the coast of California, which not only impacts the health and safety of patients whose communities are a target of potential oil spills—but which also increases dependence on fossil fuels, which are killing our planet.”

Eric Bauman — Chair, California Democratic Party

“I do not support drilling off the California coast whatsoever. Our coastline is critical to our state’s economy, beauty and quality of life. California is on a path to making renewables our major energy source - we should stick with that plan, for the health of our planet.”

David Townsend — Founder, TCT Public Affairs

“My understanding is that slant drilling from derricks up to one mile inland can be effective and safe. If that is in fact the case, we should consider this form of extraction to increase supply and lower costs.”

John Pérez — Speaker, California State Assembly (2010-2014)

“The notion that gasoline would somehow cost less if California would allow offshore drilling is a specious argument. Oil prices are based on a huge international market and are subject to a number of different factors that are not solely under the control of California’s governance. When I was In the legislature I was involved in blocking an offshore drilling project off the coast of Santa Barbara. We knew the scale of the environmental risk that was inherent in the project even though advocates of the project tried to downplay our concerns, only months later across country the largest oil spill in American history.”

Jon Coupal — President, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

“Absolutely. Although we shouldn’t assume that any cost savings would be passed along to consumers as opposed to being taken by government by the imposition of even higher taxes. More importantly from an environmental perspective, many coastal areas in California see significant amounts of oil washing up on beaches from natural oil seeps. Allowing expanded oil drilling would actually reduce oil from natural sources from polluting our coastline.”

Angie Wei — Chief of Staff, California Labor Federation

“Absolutely not. The beauty of California’s coastline is priceless.”

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Sal Russo — Founder, Tea Party America

“Common sense should prevail on protecting our California coastline, and there is scant evidence that there are sufficient offshore oil and gas resources to justify further expanding drilling off the coast. [There] are other means to expand our energy supply to keep control on energy costs. However, good sense would have approved expanding oil drilling in the Santa Barbara Tranquillon Ridge field, which Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger initially supported, but then backed out. The field on both state and federal lands could have been drilled from either off-shore existing platforms or from onshore facilities, yet emotional arguments won out over a common sense expansion in an area that is already developed for oil drilling.”

Rob Stutzman — Founder and President, Stutzman Public Affairs

“No. California has abundant reserves for land-based extraction. There is not an economic imperative related to fuel costs to justify offshore drilling.”

Daniel Zingale — Senior Vice President, California Endowment

“The supposed choice between a healthy environment versus economic well-being is the lie used to justify greed at the expense of people’s lives. I believe the stewardship of creation enhances—not diminishes—our quality of life. The path to affordability will be forged with clean energy, not trashed by economically and environmentally disastrous offshore oil platforms.”

Michele Siqueiros — President, Campaign for College Opportunity

“No. Our coast is one of our biggest and most beautiful assets, we need to protect it so our children and grandchildren can enjoy it for years to come.”

Timothy White — Chancellor, California State University

“Heck no. Californians widely agree that the risks of increased drilling off California’s coast—not to mention the long-term negative effects of fossil fuel consumption—are not worth it. That said, energy costs are a real concern for many Californians, especially those from low-income backgrounds. Instead of permanently affecting our precious coastline, we should invest in more research and development—led by California’s colleges and universities—on alternative and more efficient sources of energy.”

Jon Fleischman — Publisher of FlashReport

“Of course. Focusing on safely extracting oil offshore means having to transport less fuels by rail, truck or pipeline. California is an immense state and our people use a large quantity of oil. Increasing supply will bring down the cost. Which is one way to make California more affordable.”

Janet Napolitano — President, University of California

“No. I cannot imagine that any slight impact offshore oil drilling would have on energy prices would outweigh the considerable environmental risk associated with it.”

Renata Simril — President and CEO, LA84 Foundation

“No! First, it is important for readers to understand that oil is traded as a commodity on the global marketplace, and prices are prone to the ups and downs of various market forces; domestic drilling policy doesn’t have a significant impact in today’s price of oil or the local price of gasoline. Therefore, an increase in offshore drilling in California would not necessarily translate in lower gas or energy prices here at home. Exxon Valdez, Deepwater Horizon, or the accident in Santa Barbara in 1969 should stand as constant reminders to policy makers that the environmental cost of those incidents far outweighs any perceived cost benefit of gas or energy in the California marketplace.”

Mindy Romero — Founder and Director, USC California Civic Engagement Project

“No. We should not endanger the health of our coast and its economy for the possible short term gains of cheaper gas or lower energy bills.”

Catherine Lew — Principal and Co-Founder, Lew Edwards Group

“NO. California first took steps to limit offshore oil drilling after a devastating 1970s oil spill. Public sentiment has remained solidly in support of these protections ever since. In coastal districts, this opposition has traditionally crossed party lines. Moreover, in the age of growing concern about climate change, the public is only going to grow more skeptical about why we should put our coast at risk to off shore drilling.”

Eloy Oakley — Chancellor, California Community Colleges

“No. It is time for us to wean ourselves off of fossil fuels. The longer that we hold on to old, less efficient forms of energy, the harder it becomes to fully embrace new more efficient sources of energy.”

Carl Guardino — President and CEO, Silicon Valley Leadership Group

“Growing up in the Golden State, I vividly remember the oil spill off the Santa Barbara coast. Let’s learn from our mistakes. We should be weaning our way off of fossil fuels, not finding new ways to drill for them. Short-term cuts in energy bills would still lead to long-term losses to our economy and our environment by not shifting to renewable forms of energy.”

Ashley Swearengin — President and CEO of the Central Valley Community Foundation

“I don’t believe Californians want to sacrifice their coastline for less-expensive gasoline. We’ve embraced the mantel of being the nation’s leader in renewable energy sources, which is an incredible accomplishment. However, we often shoot ourselves in the foot by putting costly regulations in the way of developing and using renewable energy sources. We’re shifting to renewable energy, but can we take the next step and do what it takes to deliver renewable and affordable energy?”

Andrea Ambriz Chief of Staff, Service Employees International Union Local 2015

“California is at the forefront of a range of technological developments, and should continue to lead in research and implementation toward advancing the production of alternative fuels. Reducing our dependence upon petroleum makes consumers less vulnerable to the impact of fluctuations in the global oil market, and also strengthens our national security. Moreover, Californians are the leading stewards of our nation’s most valuable natural asset—our ocean coast—and ensuring that we protect and preserve it is a responsibility we have to our country.”

Aziza Hasan — Executive Director, New Ground Muslim-Jewish Partnership

“The price paid by future generations far outweighs a lower gas bill. We need to be investing in long-term solutions.”

Jim Boren — Executive Director, Fresno State’s Institute for Media and Public Trust

“No. There are many other ways to keep energy costs down.”

Antonia Hernandez President and CEO, California Community Foundation


Monica Lozano President and CEO, California Futures Foundation


Mike Madrid Principal, Grassroots Lab


Ron George — California Supreme Court Chief Justice (1996-2011)


Roger Salazar — President, Alza Strategies