How one defines “progress” seems to be at the heart of the loud debate over fracking in California. Like the rest of the nation, California may be on the verge of an economic surge built on the back of an energy boom. Environmentalists want to shut off fracking for fear of negative effects from the hydraulic, chemical-enhanced drilling that they also believe will slow the move toward alternative energy.

California is making “progress” on both fronts — moving forward with alternative energy while allowing for regulated fracking that would come with job creation, economic benefits including new revenues for the state and a steady supply of home produced energy for the state that needs such energy to thrive. It is argued that California’s slide in manufacturing can be reversed as a result of an energy boom.

Governor Jerry Brown seems to understand the pluses fracking provides. His signature on SB 4 allowed for fracking to continue. He has had to endure protests from hard-core environmentalists over that decision.

Yet, the positives from continued oil production are clear. A recent article from McClatchy DC reports that the United States will soon become the world’s leading oil producer. For the first time in nearly twenty years, America has produced more oil than it has imported.

This development will have large consequences on foreign policy. But what happens to energy policy, especially in the Golden State?

California is a strong environmentally conscious state. There is no turning back from that position. Yet, the advancement on the alternative energy front can co-exist with producing energy from more traditional sources.

Oil and natural gas production will create jobs and keep the cost of energy down while alternative energy methods are improved and become more widespread so that they, too, can come at a reasonable cost to the consumer.

The key is to manage the development of all the resources equitably — to move forward with alternative sources while enjoying the benefits of oil and natural gas production.

If any place on earth can make “progress” on the energy front with a combination of alternative and traditional energy sources it is California.