Inside Aera
The Big Picture Jan 21, 2020

California is an ‘energy island’ – and that puts us at risk

Our inability to secure enough crude oil from other states forces us to rely on foreign suppliers. Is that the best position for our families, businesses and the nation’s largest economy?

California’s gasoline supplies rely heavily on oil produced in foreign countries.

The U.S. has become the world’s largest oil and gas producer, thanks to advancements in technology and industry ingenuity.

But most of America’s domestically produced crude oil can’t make its way to California.

That’s because the Golden State is an energy island, says Californians for Energy Independence, a coalition made up of over 200,000 Californians.

“California is disconnected from the other lower 48 states,” CEI notes.


  • No crude pipelines exist from other states. That’s the result of regulations that make pipeline infrastructure into California an untenable option.
  • Rail and truck transportation is limited. Rail transport is extremely expensive, highly controversial and would require an increase of 243,000 rail cars to meet current demands. Truck transport is unfeasible due to limited capacity.
  • Alaska has become a declining source of crude oil. While there has been an increase in investment that may counter that trend, it won’t be enough to offset California’s current production levels in the foreseeable future.

California is the nation’s seventh largest producer of crude oil. But our locally produced supply isn’t enough to meet our energy needs. Keep in mind that California is the most populated state in the nation, has the largest economy and is second only to Texas in total energy consumption. We also have more registered motor vehicles than any other state.

CEI maintains that the policies California has adopted are responsible for the state’s increasing reliance on distant energy sources. California imports more than 70% of its crude oil supply, most of it from other countries.

“If California continues on this trajectory, it would be choosing even greater dependence on foreign oil, which threatens reliability, sustainability and affordability for California’s diverse communities,” the coalition adds.

How we’re vulnerable

California’s foreign dependence makes it vulnerable to:

  • Volatile markets – Geo-political and economic events bring instability to the global oil market. That includes unforeseen circumstances, new costly investments, needs of other foreign countries like China, India and Europe and trade wars.
  • Strait of Hormuz – The only sea passage from the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz is essential to global oil transportation. One-third of the world’s sea-borne oil passes through this narrow waterway every day. A center of global tension, the Strait of Hormuz faces blockages and disrupted oil supplies due to regional skirmishes. Remember Iran’s seizure of a British tanker and attacks on ships in 2019?
  • Unstable foreign countries – At any time, other nations can limit or shut off oil supplies through embargoes or other means.
  • Control and security risks – Is California OK handing over control of our energy needs to a remote source and putting our energy security at risk?
  • Lower worker safety and environmental protections. Imported oil is not produced to California’s stringent safety, labor and environmental standards.

There is a solution that mitigates these risks while supporting our energy needs, says the coalition.

“California’s leaders can protect working families, consumers and our global environment by promoting in-state production under the world’s most stringent safety, labor and environmental standards,” CEI says.

DID YOU KNOW? Aera Energy is a three-time recipient of the Forbes America’s Midsize Employer List, placing ninth in the 2022 ranking and securing its spot in the top ten midsize companies to work for in the United States.

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