For Hundreds of Thousands of Californians, There’s No Such Thing as a “Just” Energy Transition

By Kevin Slagle – WSPA Vice President, Strategic Communications

What may come as a surprise to many is that the oil and gas industry is in strong agreement that collectively we must transition to a more renewable energy future. In fact, the industry has been innovating rapidly and investing significantly to support a more sustainable and diverse energy future for years.

But simply put, Governor Newsom’s radical and elitist mandates will not work for hundreds of thousands of Californians and will come at great social and economic cost. And here’s why:

  • Jobs: We just heard President Biden speak to the value of “buying American.” California’s oil & gas industry provides family-wage careers for more than 150,000 women and men while also generating $21.6 billion in state and local tax revenues. Without them we will have to import millions of gallons of crude oil from places like Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and China, who do not share our standards for the environment or human rights.
  • Costs: If oil production is banned in California, how will the state provide fuel for the 30-40 million cars and trucks still on the road for the next 10 years? If we must import oil from other countries, the trickle-down cost impact will hurt all Californians.
  • Future Energy: With a heritage of innovation and problem-solving, the oil and gas industry is best poised to help California meet its climate goals. The industry has been innovating and investing in environmental solutions for decades. Phasing oil and gas out leaves some of our brightest minds in energy out of the conversation.
  • Governing with Bans: Where will the mandates end? What’s next? Banning Boats, RVs, food trucks and home barbeques – what will California policymakers ban next?

To voice our concerns over this important issue, on May 26th, WSPA brought together a coalition of community and business leaders to address Governor Newsom’s “just” transition approach, and make the countless women and men of the industry who keep this state running everyday heard.

The virtual press event brought together elected officials, essential workers from inside and outside the industry, representatives from the business community as well as labor to unite around the dangers of Governor Newsom’s recent mandates and bans. We heard powerful proof points about economic impact and the environmental and human rights ramifications of depending purely on foreign oil. But perhaps most inspiring was hearing the first-hand perspectives from industry employees about the opportunities afforded to them and their families because of the oil and gas industry in the state.

While I and the eight other speakers all come from very different backgrounds, we all wholeheartedly agreed that the Governor’s rash policies are not based on science or data, and are dangerous and hurtful to hundreds of thousands of California families.

I came away more certain than ever in knowing that mandates and bans never work, and that the political propaganda and polarizing activism from our industry’s detractors will only hurt our state. We hope others choose to look past the noise and political grandstanding and learn more about the issue and hear directly from the people and communities who will suffer most as a result of this current course of action. A recording of today’s event can be found at

For more information about how you can get involved and support families, communities and local economies across the state, please visit

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We hope the following quotes from speakers participating in the event can begin to inspire constructive dialogue and a more collaborative approach to providing the energy solutions that will keep California leading the nation:

  • California Assemblymember Vince Fong: “If California is going to continue to economically thrive, we need more energy production, not less. It is completely naïve to think you can just transition these hard-working industry workers to jobs that do not exist.”
  • California Assemblymember Rudy Salas: “As Californians, we should be demanding the cleanest energy anywhere in the world, and that’s already happening right here in our state. We shouldn’t rely on imports from other countries who don’t share our commitment to environmental and human rights standards.”
  • Clint Olivier, Executive Director, Central Valley Biz Fed: “We are absolutely prepared to work with Governor Newsom to protect the environment, but you can’t turn your back on thousands of hard-working workers and their families.”
  • John Spaulding, Executive Secretary, Building Trades Council, Kern, Inyo, Mono Counties: “I am disappointed that Governor Newsom is moving forward with shutting down the oil and gas industry in CA. He is ignoring the science and pushed the timetable up, not allowing the industry to work collaboratively in a so-called “just” transition.”
  • David Nelson, Kern County Firefighters Local 1301 Union: “Without having a true understanding of the economic and social impacts of this transition, we can’t just blindly move forward with mandates that hurt California communities.”
  • Ashley Davis, Electrical Engineer, Aera Energy:As an oil and gas employee I am proud of the important work we do – I love my job. It has changed my life for the better.”
  • Maira Castro, Well Analyst, California Resources Corporation:As a single parent I have worked endlessly to build my career and make a life for my family. The oil and gas industry has made that possible.”
  • Ebelyn Chavez, Operations Data Technologist, Chevron:Instead of driving away reliable clean energy, let’s share our knowledge with other states and countries who are not as responsible or reliable. Let California lead the way.”

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