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New Report: Monterey Shale Promises Unprecedented Economic Benefits for California

By Catherine Reheis-Boyd

There’s been a lot of excitement lately over the potential benefits of California’s Monterey Shale – a 1,700 square mile oil-bearing shale formation primarily in the San Joaquin Valley that contains an estimated 15 billion barrels of oil. The excitement comes from a realization this oil, if prudently and safely developed, could dramatically change our state’s energy security picture for decades to come and usher in an era of unprecedented prosperity. Those benefits have come into much sharper focus, with potential job creation in the millions, exponential economic growth, and billions of dollars in new tax revenue generation being projected in a newly-released study by leading academic economists from the University of Southern California. The study, Powering California: The Monterey Shale & California's Economic Future concludes that over the period between 2015 – 2030, development of the Monterey Shale could:

  • Create from 512,000 to 2.8 million new jobs;
  • Increase California’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2.6 percent to 14.3 percent on a per-person basis;
  • Grow personal income by an average of 2.1 percent to 10 percent;
  • Generate $4.5 billion to $24.6 billion in new tax revenues for state and local government services.

Clearly, the Monterey Shale is a game-changing economic opportunity that California can’t afford to ignore.  This opportunity is especially important to the communities in the San Joaquin Valley that have experienced extremely high unemployment and economic challenges for far too long.  The great San Joaquin Valley will be the primary beneficiary of the jobs, wealth and government revenues that will flow from the Monterey Shale. 

It’s their time to flourish. This opportunity has not escaped the notice of Governor Jerry Brown, who this week said he is confident his oil and gas regulators can and will protect the environment so hydraulic fracturing can unlock the “extraordinary” opportunities offered by the Monterey’s massive oil deposits.

Despite these promising developments, there are still those who would like to ban or unnecessarily restrict the practice of hydraulic fracturing based on emotional and unsubstantiated claims of risk to the environment and water quality.

As Governor Brown said, it is imperative the safety of hydraulic fracturing “be decided based on science, based on common sense and based on a deliberative process that listens to people – but also wants to take advantage of the great opportunities we have in this state.” An honest appraisal of the science and common sense around hydraulic fracturing leads to a conclusion the technology we’ve used without harm in California for 60 plus years is safe and its benefits a blessing. Oil drilling activities in California are strictly regulated by several agencies and the state’s oil producers are working closely with the government to develop even stronger protections to ensure the vast potential of the Monterey can be realized.

We are committed to continue working with regulators, the Legislature and any other groups and individuals who care about California’s economic wellbeing toward making the promise of the Monterey Shale a reality.