CENTRAL VALLEY – As climate change remains a growing concern, the Central Valley Business Federation looks for alternatives to extreme legislative measures.
Central Valley Business Federation (BizFed) launched a new public awareness project called My Job Depends on Oil (MJDOO) last December in support of oil and gas industry workers. Their goal is to temper the state’s ambitious plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045. According to the MJDOO campaign, the human consequences of displaced workers and disadvantaged communities with no alternative energy sources are left without consideration.
Because it took oil and gas nearly a century to become affordable and dependable, BizFed chief executive officer Clint Olivier doesn’t think two decades is enough time for renewable energy to get there. Inspired by the successful 2016 Facebook group-turned movement My Job Depends on Ag, Olivier got in touch with its founder, Steve Malanca. The pair agreed on the interdependence of agriculture and oil for the Central Valley and struck a partnership.
“These are good paying jobs where you can have a GED coming out of high school and make $80,000 a year starting.” Olivier said. “At the ground level, these folks are scared.”
The majority of oil and gas industry salaries range between $42,000 and $95,000 according to ZipRecruiter. However, if no solid framework exists to transition these workers to other sectors, the impact of carbon neutrality can have profound consequences for thousands of families. According to a study by the Political Economy Research Institute, the state’s fossil fuel phaseout would displace 3,200 workers per year in California through 2030.
According to the International Labour Organization, a just transition means greening the economy in a way that is as fair and inclusive as possible to everyone concerned, creating work opportunities and leaving no one behind. Such a transition would require reemployment for displaced workers, retraining and supplemented pay for jobs lower than their previous salary.
In 2021, leading environmental lawmaker Al Muratsuchi proposed assembly bill 1453 that would create a state fund to support, retrain and employ oil and gas industry workers. However, the bill died in the Senate after 19 Democrats voted against the bill or abstained.
MJDOO believes that oil and gas are going to be in demand for decades to come. While the campaign does not call for pollution, it calls for a resilient energy policy focused on affordability and reliability in a way that bolsters the environment.
California’s recent proposal to have all-electric vehicles on the road by 2035 proved to be controversial throughout the state. State officials claim that the 12.5 million electric vehicles expected on California’s roads by 2035 will not strain the grid. According to a scenario laid out by the California Energy Commission, this requires massive construction of offshore wind and solar farms, and drivers charging cars in off-peak hours.
The all-electric vehicles by 2025 proposal mandates that 30 percent of new 2026 car models sold in California must be zero-emissions, ramping up to 100 percent in 2035.
The California Air Resources Board enacted the mandate last August and just six days later, California experienced extreme heat waves that stressed the power grid as more electricity was being demanded to cool down homes and businesses.
“How can the state require Californians to buy electric cars if the grid couldn’t even supply enough power to make it through the summer?” Olivier asked. “We are decades away, if ever, and the answer is affordable transportation fuels that run on efficient engines.
The kicker, according to Olivier, is that it may be too late to move the needle on climate change while other countries are moving full speed ahead to boost their own economies. Despite global summits and pledges to accelerate towards renewable energy, these pledges are unenforceable.
“These treaties are unenforceable and these countries will continue to harness their energy potential,” Olivier said. “We’ll have to see how it pans out but maybe folks will realize it won’t be 10 years but 40 or 50 years before the tech is there and affordable enough to be entirely relied upon.”