Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Coming War with Texas

The recent announcement that Toyota is moving its American sales and marketing headquarters from California to Texas has spurred some of the usual commentary about an economic competition between California and Texas. And this is supposedly a competition that California is losing! But I don't think there's much to that story; I don't really think we have anything serious to worry about from Texas poaching our businesses. I will probably do a post about that soon.

However, California does have a serious problem with Texas that may well come to resemble a political and economic war in the years to come. And that war will be about oil.

A recent (and excellent) article about the Texas economy is in the current issue of Washington Monthy magazine. Among many interesting points, author Phillip Longman points out that a critical part of the economic growth spurt in Texas is simply the growth of the Texas oil and gas industry. The growth of the oil and natural gas industries is a critical foundation of the Texas "miracle" that conservatives crow about.

But California has declared war on oil and gas (and coal). From our renewable energy mandate for 2020, to our efforts to build a network of hydrogen fuel cell refill stations across the state, from our opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline to our mandate for electrical utilities to develop energy storage capacity,  to our cap and trade greenhouse gas market, California is working to reduce our use of oil and gas. In so doing, we have taken up arms against an industry that Texas is going all in on.

It's not personal. It's not that anyone over here has a grudge against Texas or is upset by the fact that their economy is growing. But Californians live in the real world, where global warming is a clearly recognized danger to the Mediterranean Climate that we know and love. And because global warming threatens our climate and lifestyle, global warming has to go, and therefore the oil and gas industries pretty much have to go too.

But Texas lives in Fox News Land, and they don't see things the same way. They think oil is great. So our effort to gut their foundation industry is going to cause some really hard feelings at some point.

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