California Oil & Gas: In it for the Long Run

By Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President Western States Petroleum Association

When it comes to creating a truly sustainable energy future, the question isn’t if oil and gas will play a role but what role we will continue to play.  Let’s be clear: the oil and gas industry supports the advancement of renewable and alternative energy sources; we support the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement; and, we are helping create a cleaner, brighter energy future.

While we do not agree with much in Robert Price’s recent column, we do agree an energy transition is underway, and we’re a big part of that transition. We have and continue to invest in innovative energy solutions that will guarantee safe, reliable, affordable energy for all Californians while continuing to produce the energy needed now and into the foreseeable future, right here in Kern County.

As the oil and gas industry evolves, our elected leaders cannot bet Californians’ livelihoods and businesses solely on alternative energy or assume that massive infrastructure additions and upgrades required to go “all electric” can be ready or paid for by 2050, let alone 2035.  We, too, want a better, cleaner, more inclusive future and we believe we can get there without dismantling an entire economy, increasing our reliance on foreign oil, and putting thousands of people out of work.

We will fight for a more equitable future by challenging policies that lead us to those outcomes.  We believe a proper evolution for energy can be had through smart, timely choices that match policy with technological, economic, and environmental priorities for the good of all. We won’t get there through mandates, bans or the political propaganda and polarizing activism of our detractors.

The oil and gas industry is already living today’s energy transition, delivering safe and affordable fuels and innovating on technologies that significantly reduce carbon emissions, like carbon capture.

If you want to build an electric vehicle, you need our industry.  We are proudly providing the energy and products needed to create, power and deliver everything needed for a sustainable energy future, from batteries to biofuels to manufacturing equipment.  Right now, and for years to come, if you need food, medicine and life-saving vaccines you rely on vehicles and equipment powered by our products.  That’s why our workers were and continue to be designated essential workers throughout the pandemic.

Our industry needs no reminders about the needs of a changing world. We’re living it and working towards it every day. Our community, especially in Kern County, needs no reminders of what we must adapt to, and the economic and energy equity we must fight for. What is at stake is more than the question of whether oil production will occur here in California. What’s at stake is ensuring we have policymakers and public policy leaders that allow our communities to transition fairly with an opportunity to compete. What we need are policymakers that will protect our industry’s ability to contribute to today’s energy transition.

Without oil and gas, we cripple an infrastructure already strained from COVID-19 destruction. The fuels and products of oil and gas remain critical to our economy and community. Firefighters and first responders. Hospitals and essential workers on the front lines of the pandemic. And families whose livelihoods depend on a thriving energy sector. We can’t afford to sacrifice their well-being in attempt to artificially make science go faster.

Catherine Reheis-Boyd is president of Western States Petroleum Association. WSPA’s policy principles are highlighted at

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