California, a state known for its progressive policies and stringent regulations, faces a significant
challenge in meeting its growing oil demand while upholding its commitment to environmental
responsibility and human rights. With the recent passage of Senate Joint Resolution 2 endorsing
the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative, California is faced with more significant
challenges in meeting its new oil demand while staying true to its values of sustainability and
The Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative, backed by about 100 governments
worldwide, including the European Parliament, the World Health Organization, and the Vatican,
aims to end petroleum exploration and phase out existing production. While the resolution is
seen as a significant step toward addressing climate change, it poses a unique challenge to
California, which already consumes approximately 1.8 million barrels of oil per day, with the
majority imported from overseas.
Assemblyman Vince Fong, representing Bakersfield, a region central to California’s oil industry,
has raised concerns about the state’s ability to sustain its energy needs. Fong argues that
California’s status as an “energy island” makes it dependent on foreign oil imports. This
dependence on foreign nations for oil raises valid concerns about labor practices, environmental
standards, and LGBTQ+ rights in these nations, values that California holds dear.
Fong highlights a compelling argument: if California is not energy independent, it may find itself
relying on oil from countries with questionable records in labor rights and environmental
stewardship. Is it not wiser to produce our own oil, under our strict regulations, rather than send
billions of dollars overseas?
Approximately 70% of California’s in-state oil production occurs in Kern County. Activists
argue that this production harms nearby residents and the environment. On the other hand, the oil
industry contends that importing oil sends U.S. dollars to countries with lower regulatory and
human rights standards.
Rock Zierman, CEO of the California Independent Petroleum Association trade group, raises
concerns about the state’s energy sources. It’s crucial to recognize that this debate is not about
ignoring California’s energy needs but finding innovative and responsible ways to meet them
while respecting our values.
The Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative represents a global effort to combat climate
change. While the treaty endorses clean power alternatives and emphasizes protecting workers
and local government services during the energy transition, it is essential to consider how
California can balance its energy needs with its sustainability and social justice commitment.