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Experts Question Viability of California’s Monterey Shale



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Experts Question Viability of California’s Monterey Shale
Panel Discussion in Sacramento Reveals Technical Challenges; Industry Jobs Numbers Disputed

Watch a live stream of the discussion, which begins 2pm PST, here. 

San Francisco, CA – A group of oil and economic experts today questioned the viability of California’s Monterey Shale oil deposits and encouraged state legislators to proceed with caution as they consider whether to include the Monterey Shale in forecasts of the state’s energy and economic future.

During a panel discussion in Sacramento, business leader and Next Generation co-founder Tom Steyer; geoscientist Dr. David Hughes of the Post Carbon Institute; and Robert Collier, a research fellow with Next Generation, described the probability of a new oil boom in the Monterey Shale as “slim to none.” 

“California has a strong track record as a leader in the transition to an advanced energy economy, and we’ve grounded our success in a solid understanding of the facts,” said Steyer. “The complicated geology of the Monterey Shale suggests that we should not be rushing to any conclusions until we have a clear understanding of how development could impact the health and safety of our local communities.”

“When it comes down to it, the geology of the Monterey Shale oil fields is more like a labyrinth than a swimming pool,” said Hughes. “Except, in this case, it’s a labyrinth thousands of feet beneath densely populated areas in an area known for lots of seismic activity.”

Hughes pointed out that other shale deposits, such as the Bakken in North Dakota, are more uniformly distributed in the rock, and therefore can be developed more rapidly, with less risk  and at lower cost. Some studies of the potential economic benefits of developing the Monterey Shale have compared it to the boom currently taking place in North Dakota.

“The oil industry is hyping the Monterey Shale’s potential for an epic boom with millions of new jobs, but academic experts say those estimates are smoke and mirrors,” said Collier, who authored a comprehensive report on the Monterey Shale last fall. “The fact is, even if California's oil production were to increase, the economic impact for the state would be minimal.”

The panel discussion focused on the findings of two separate studies that looked at the Monterey Shale; one, conducted by Next Generation, compared an economic analysis of the Monterey Shale produced by the oil industry to independent analyses conducted by outside experts; another, by Post Carbon Institute and Physicians, Scientists & Engineers for Healthy Energy, investigated the underlying claims of the potential for oil production from the Monterey Shale. 


About Next Generation

Next Generation promotes solutions to two of the biggest challenges confronting the next generation of Americans:  The risk of dangerous climate change, and the threat of diminished prospects for children and families. Through the use of non-partisan research, policy development, and strategic communications, we identify strategies that help deploy clean, advanced energy technologies; we also work to ensure a level playing field from which today’s kids can build a brighter future.

Learn more at , and on Twitter @nextgen_USA.

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