William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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CALIFORNIA DREAMIN'? – AT 11:05 A.M. ET:   California, in deep economic trouble, may have a source of salvation.  But the environmental religionists may make salvation impossible for the sinners.  From Fox:

A vast, untapped oil reserve in California is emerging as perhaps one of the state’s best opportunities to improve its still struggling economy, but exploration and production efforts face resistance from the powerful environmental lobby and Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration that appears not to be fully sold on the potential.

The roughly 1,700 square-mile Monterey Shale, from the state’s central coast to its San Joaquin Valley, holds roughly 60 percent of the country’s estimated shale oil reserves, potentially making California the country’s top oil producer and revving up its economy like a smaller shale-oil deposit did for North Dakota.

California’s economy has been showing signs of improvement after a downward slide for years – in part the result of myriad regulations, multi-billion dollar budget deficits, high unemployment and now Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown’s income-tax hike on the state’s highest earners that has some vowing to leave.

“The Monterey Shale could be a boon to the economy, but there’s heavy emphasis on the word ‘could,’ ” said Jason Marshall, chief deputy director for the state’s Department of Conservation.

Geoffrey Styles, energy consultant, recently wrote in the online forum The Energy Collective that drilling the formation “could slash California's imports while adding billions of dollars a year to the local economy and to the shaky state budget, along with lots of good jobs.”

Oil production in the region is still largely in the speculation or developmental phases. Oil companies purportedly have been working the region’s complex structure since the early 1990s, but only recently have new technologies made large-scale extractions economically possible.

Environmentalists are primarily opposed to the companies having to tap the estimated 15. 4 billion barrels in the Monterey Shale by deep, horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, which has helped drive the country’s recent shale oil and gas boom but also raised environmental worries.

They also argue such techniques will be especially tricky in that region, considering its complex geological formation, created in part by the San Andres fault.

COMMENT:  California's oil reserves could truly be a major boon to the state, and to a nation trying to free itself from dependence on foreign oil.   Yes, there are some legitimate environmental concerns.  Having been through two large California earthquakes, I understand those concerns.

But I do hope the enviro fanatics are not permitted to obstruct progress, once the environmental issues are met.  They are threatening the Keystone Pipeline, another major advance in our march toward energy independence, even though environmental concerns have been thoughtfully addressed.

But it's California, and you may be sure that every whacked-out Hollywood "star" will be out there making statements at awards ceremonies opposing this "despoiling of the land," or whatever phrase their PR people choose to write for them.

California may dream again.  We hope.

February 9, 2013