Recently, the California State Assembly’s held a hearing on the economic impacts of energy policy and energy industry professionals took time away from the oil patch to share their personal stories with lawmakers. As it always has in California, the industry acknowledged the importance of mitigating climate change and general environmental stewardship but also reminded legislators that there is often a human cost to heavy-handed state policy that can end quality careers.
The Joint Legislative Committee on Climate Change and the Committee on Jobs, Economic Development and the Economy billed its hearing “Supporting a Just Transition to a Low Carbon Economy,” and it focused, among other things, on how our policy plays out in the lives of everyday Californians. Click here to watch the hearing.
Rock Zierman, CEO of the California Independent Petroleum Association (CIPA), kicked-off his testimony by acknowledging the role the energy industry plays in helping the state to address climate change mitigation, and he discussed ways in which the oil and gas industry has embraced renewable energy, like solar, to help meet its electricity needs. He told lawmakers:
“We are greening the oil patch and we are partnering with renewable energy and deploying renewable energy.”
Zierman also reminded legislators that in-state production of oil and gas is the most environmentally friendly and economically beneficial way to meet California’s energy needs considering that California has the strictest environmental regulations in the country and that we only produce less than half of the oil we consume, importing the rest from places with less environmentally friendly production.
Jerry Flores, an employee of E&B Natural Resources told lawmakers that the energy industry gave him a career, not just a job. The father of three discussed how the industry gave him a chance even though he had previously spent time in prison.
“They do give opportunities to men and women. You just got to give an honest day and the main priority out there is our safety.”
Flores, a father of three, is about to become a first-time homeowner and he can take his family on vacation thanks to the future that the industry provided him.
Another E&B Natural Resources worker, Phillip Larea, testified that he supervises 34 employees, and that the policies lawmakers enact affect all of those employees and thousands more across the state. Larea told lawmakers that he grew up in the foster care system and that he got his job – a “second chance” as he put it — after participating in a work program with the California Youth Authority.
“Break that cycle and not seeing my son down that path and being a member of the community and giving back. What this industry does is it helps me provide for my family.”
In addition, native Californian Maris Densmore, a geologist with California Resources Corporation, told legislators that she had to go out of state to find a job after she graduated. She talked about how the oil and gas industry provided her with an opportunity to return to California with a rewarding career in a technical field with work-life balance.
Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella Valley) acknowledged the valuable role that California’s energy industry plays in providing high-paying, quality careers to Californians with a variety of backgrounds and experience:
“I’ve got to give credit to CIPA. In the time that I’ve been discussing climate change policies, I’ve met a number of individuals who work in those industries that if it wasn’t for that particular type of job, they would not be working.”