California Governor Bans Oil and Gas Development on State Property

Published December 27, 2019

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation prohibiting new oil and gas development and infrastructure on state lands.

The law is intended to undermine the Trump administration’s efforts to expand oil and gas production on federal lands in California, by preventing state leasing authorities from permitting oil and gas infrastructure, including pipelines, to be constructed on state lands.

State lands often adjoin or sometimes even surround federal lands in California. As a result, the law makes it virtually impossible to extract oil and gas on federal or even private lands in locations where pipelines or roads would have to be built across state lands to transport fossil fuels for refining and use.

‘Need to Fight’ Trump

This law sends a message to President Donald Trump that the state’s wildlands are off limits to oil and gas production, said California state Assembly member Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) in a statement released as Newsom signed the bill into law.

“We need to fight the Trump administration’s plan to frack and drill for oil in some of our most beautiful national and state parks,” Muratsuchi said. “They have already approved new drilling and pipelines in the wildflower-rich Carrizo Plain National Monument near San Luis Obispo.

“Other protected lands like the Giant Sequoia National Monument near the Sierra Nevada mountain range are at risk,” Muratsuchi said. “By prohibiting the issuance of new oil infrastructure leases on state lands, A.B. 342 is sending a clear message to Trump that we will fight to protect these beautiful lands for current and future generations.”

Outsourcing Energy Production

The law effectively outsources California’s power supply, which will cost the state’s residents and businesses, says Rock Zierman, chief executive officer of the California Independent Petroleum Association.

“As California has recently suffered from forced power outages, now is not the time to eliminate high-paying, desperately needed Central Valley jobs and send our wealth to Saudi Arabia instead,” Zierman said. “If we are consuming oil, it should come from California under California’s strict environmental rules.

“I’m concerned about the tone of the bill signings, which don’t address demand but will simply replace domestic energy with foreign imports,” Zierman said.

‘Sticker Shock’

Californians will pay higher prices for gasoline because of this bill, says William F. Shughart II, a senior fellow and research director at the Independent Institute.

“California is home to the nation’s highest gasoline prices and recent actions by the legislature and by Gov. Newsom to limit oil and gas development on state lands guarantee California’s drivers will continue to experience sticker shock at the pump,” Shughart said.

‘Anti-Consumer Approach’

Lower-income Californians will especially suffer as from the state’s ongoing efforts to block new oil and gas development, says Wayne Winegarden, a senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute.

“Gov. Newsom’s ban on building pipelines on state lands is another example of California’s anti-consumer approach to energy that will deny potential jobs and income growth for Californians, particularly lower-income families in the Central Valley and Inland Empire,” Winegarden said. “The policy also demonstrates the anti-energy bias of this administration that promises California families will continue to suffer from high energy costs and less energy reliability for the foreseeable future.”

Baruch Feigenbaum, assistant director of transportation policy at the Reason Foundation, says the anti-oil and gas infrastructure law is another example of elites enacting policies that disproportionately harm those in the middle- and lower-income brackets.

“This law disproportionately affects the Central Valley, one of the poorest areas of the state, where most oil and gas resources are located,” Feigenbaum said. “It is a fight over power, and as usual, upper-income coastal residents are winning and lower-income Central Valley residents are losing.”

Chris Talgo ([email protected]) is an editor at The Heartland Institute.

Official Connections

Gov. Gavin Newsom:;

California state Assembly Member Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance):;