It’s not too swift and too reliant on unproved alternative energies, which, as this article from New Geography notes, is hurting the state’s traditional energy producers.
The recent decision by Occidental Petroleum to move its headquarters to Houston from Los Angeles, where it was founded over a half-century ago, confirms the futility and delusion embodied in California’s ultragreen energy policies. By embracing solar and wind as preferred sources of generating power, the state promotes an ever-widening gap between its declining middle- and working-class populations and a smaller, self-satisfied group of environmental campaigners and their corporate backers.
Talk to people who work in the fossil-fuel industry, and they tell you they feel ostracized and even hated; to be an oil firm in California is like being a pork producer in an ultra-Orthodox section of Jerusalem. One top industry executive told me that many of his colleagues in California cringe at the prospect of being attacked by politicians and activists as something akin to war criminals. “I wouldn’t subject my kids to that environment,” the Gulf Coast-based oilman suggested.
What matters here is not the hurt feelings of energy executives, but a massive lost opportunity to create loads of desperately needed jobs, particularly for blue-collar workers. The nation may be undergoing a massive “energy revolution,” based largely on new supplies of oil and, particularly, cleaner natural gas, but California so far has decided not to play.
In all but forcing out fossil-fuel firms, California is shedding one of its historic core industries. Not long ago, California was home to a host of top 10 energy firms – ARCO, Getty Oil, Union Oil, Oxy and Chevron; in 1970, oil firms constituted the five largest industrial companies in the state. Now, only Chevron, which has been reducing its headcount in Northern California and is clearly shifting its emphasis to Texas, will remain.
These are losses that California can not easily absorb. Despite all the hype about the ill-defined “green jobs” sector, the real growth engine remains fossil fuels, which have added a half-million jobs in the past five years. If you don’t believe it, just take a trip to Houston, where Occidental is moving. Houston now has more new office construction, some 9 million square feet, than any region in the country outside New York; Los Angeles barely has 1 million. Indeed, most of the office markets that have performed best in reducing vacancies since 2009 – Pittsburgh, Denver, Houston and Dallas – are all, to some degree, driven by energy.
Everywhere you drive in Houston, now leading the nation in corporate expansions, one sees new office buildings. Last time I checked, I didn’t see much in the way of a Solyndra, Fisker or other green-business headquarters being constructed anywhere in our Golden State. Energy is driving Houston’s surge of some 50 new office buildings, led by ExxonMobil’s campus, the second-largest office complex under construction in the U.S. (after New York’s Freedom Tower).
Retrieved March 4, 2014 from http://www.newgeography.com/content/004199-energy-running-out-california