With a willful dismissal of facts, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and others continue their ideological crusade against oil and gas in California. Their approach of accusing opponents of being racist is merely a form of moral superiority honed to achieve victory at all costs.  

CBD has deliberately subscribed to the logical fallacies that undermined the credibility of the California Council on Science and Technology (CCST) report on idle and orphan wells. Their presumption is that there is no effective regulation, no oversight, and no accountability within the system of laws and agencies that putatively are in place to protect the environment and public health, and that CRC California Resources Corporation (CRC)— a California company with $12 billion in assets — would simply stop working from one day to the next and walk away from every single well without blinking. 

Their solution? “[A]ccelerate well remediation” and “create good jobs.” This is as absurd as assigning a crew of nuclear engineers to fix toilets in an abandoned mining town, once a real-life Soviet-era employment solution.

This approach demonstrates a profound ignorance of how the real world works, and suggests that a marginal victory on the political landscape is more important than the facts. But this is consistent with the lingering history of “feint, imply and deceive” that characterizes the bulk of op-ed grenades rolled into the public debate by CBD and their classist activist partners.  

Their agenda is nothing less than a fatal chokehold on the macroeconomic drivers of our economy and absolute control of the regulatory decisions that affect the way we live and work. Their definition of success must be to shrink the economy, drive the hundreds of thousands who work in the oil and gas industry into lesser jobs (if they can be found) and raise costs to families across the state. 

There are at least two fundamental principles that underlie all civilizations in recorded human history. First, there is no civilization without the ability to aggregate and concentrate energy. Period. The aggregation, concentration and distribution of energy —in whatever forms—is the sine qua non of human prosperity and wellbeing. Second, access to, and the right to benefit from, that concentration of energy is at the very center of the legitimacy of principled and just governance. Failure to sustain a just and fair system of access to health and wellbeing is a clear precursor to violent collapse. 

The “vision” inherent in CBD’s shrill and fact-free jeremiads against the hydrocarbon-based economy is violent, cruel and devoid of compassion for those who do not already enjoy the privileges of middle-class prosperity. It is a vision of a world of invisibles and neglect, of a society built upon power and privilege for the few and a blatant disregard for the hapless many.  

CBD cannot seem to muster the facts. So, they must rely on innuendo and a swarm of maybes and what-ifs. What if every single oil, gas, and injection well in the state were suddenly abandoned? Walked away from? What if—fulfilling their dystopian vision—the entire fossil fuel industry were to collapse and wither away, leaving a deadly legacy of toxic infrastructure? What if we magically replaced this whole stinking mess with clean, carbon-free and virtuous solar panels and towering propellers that spin happily together from the Tehachapies to the rolling plains of Kansas and Iowa? At six acres per megawatt, that’s a landscape of trouble-free renewables covering an area equal to one third of the entire state of California. And that’s barely enough to power California on a hot day in August. Surely, we could use eminent domain and colonize enough of Nevada, Idaho and Montana, and then string enough carbon-neutral wires to power the few jobs left in California?  

This is not a world I want to live in. It is an apocalyptic dystopia worthy of a Cormac McCarthy novel, bleak in human possibilities and cruel in human suffering. All sarcasm aside, it is an irresponsible and cynical view of the world trotted out by the ignorant to buffalo the uninformed. It is a world of privilege, exclusion and heartless energy poverty for those at the margins. 

If CBD and their fellow environmental revolutionaries actually had the courage to come to the table and join the hard conversation, it would be welcomed heartily. We must have tough and compassionate dialogue to ensure a secure and sustainable energy future that includes EVERYONE in its possible ambit.  All are welcome who are humble enough to know that a fair and sustainable future is only possible when we all pull together and consider any and all possible ways to concentrate and equitably distribute our scarce energy resources. 

There actually is a table. And it’s not in the op-ed section. Take a seat.