California · Energy

Valley counties team up in request to Newsom for increased oil production

A growing coalition of Central Valley counties is urging California Gov. Gavin Newsom to expand in-state oil production with gas prices sitting at record highs. 

Fresno, Madera, Merced and Tulare counties signed the joint-letter to Newsom, with the Madera County Board of Supervisors unanimously voting to ratify its support on Tuesday. 

The letter addresses the war in Ukraine, which drew President Joe Biden to ban all oil imports from Russia in March. 

“As a result of the pandemic and policies related to domestic energy production, energy prices across the nation have more than doubled in the last year. The average U.S. prices of gasoline hit a new record of $4.104 per gallon even before the executive order restricting Russian oil was announced,” the letter reads. 

“In the State of California energy prices have soared far higher than the national average. These prices are expected to continue to climb sharply for the foreseeable future.” 

California currently consumes over 1.6 million barrels every day, but the state only produces 501,000 barrels per day. 

“The realities of today’s current record fuel prices are crippling millions of Californians who rely on their cars for work, school, and commerce,” the letter reads. “The high price of fuel is rippling through our agriculture, transportation and construction sectors, and is accelerating already high rates of inflation.” 

The Central Valley coalition voiced its frustration with the state’s policies to “divest of fossil fuels without an available alternative,” which has resulted in more reliance on foreign sources. 

A significant amount of California’s reliance on the international market centers on Russia. The California Energy Commission reported that the state imported 18 million barrels of oil from Russia, which accounts for six percent of all imports. 

Total imports, which comes in at over 290 million barrels, costs California over $25 billion annually. 

“California’s climate change goals will not be achieved overnight. In the meantime, California’s reliance on foreign energy sources is contributing to the global climate crisis. Oil production in California is cleaner, safer, more reliable than foreign sources, and is an economic benefit through economic growth, jobs, and property taxes,” the letter reads. 

“Not all California counties are oil producers or refiners, but all 58 California counties and their citizens are suffering the sharp pain of rising energy costs. Every family, every business, every industry depends on affordable energy. We urge you to take immediate action to expand oil production for every Californian.” 

Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.