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Press Release: New Report Finds Monterey Shale Jobs Claims "Too Big to Believe"


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Expert Review of University of Southern California Study Reveals Deep Flaws; “The report's methods are not credible”

San Francisco, CA – An expert review by some of California’s top economists has found that the oil industry has been inflating its projections of jobs that could be created by a potential new California oil boom. In a new report out today from Next Generation, the economists advise state leaders to cast a more skeptical eye on industry-funded research as they consider policies related to the development of the Monterey Shale oil deposits.

The report, “Too Big to Believe: Top Economists Doubt Oil Industry’s Jobs Figures,” asked five of California’s leading economists to review a widely-cited study conducted by the University of Southern California and funded by the Western States Petroleum Association, titled “Powering California: the Monterey Shale and California’s Economic Future.”

“The economists we spoke with were baffled by the methodology used by the USC study’s authors,” said Robert Collier, the report’s lead author and a research analyst for Next Generation. “Some of the findings were, quite frankly, bizarre.”

The USC study relied heavily on data from North Dakota, where a boom in shale oil development has transformed the state’s economy and jobs market; the USC authors cited North Dakota, as well as South Dakota and Wyoming, in predicting millions of new jobs from California oil. But the economists point out that North Dakota and California have little in common when it comes to each state’s economy, and the oil output of South Dakota and Wyoming has grown little in recent years.

“California is already the third-largest oil producer in the United States, while North Dakota was basically starting from almost zero,” said James Barba, Program Coordinator at Next Generation and a co-author of the report. “It’s hard to see how the North Dakota experience with explosive job growth and economic development from shale oil could possibly apply in a highly diverse economy like California’s, which already has a mature oil industry. South Dakota and Wyoming are even less relevant.”

“It’s critical that, as we consider our path forward on energy, we make sure to focus on policies that will create good jobs for California’s workforce,” said Kate Gordon, Vice President and Director of Next Generation’s Energy and Climate Program. “But from all appearances, the Monterey Shale is a false promise. With so many better, cleaner options on the table, it would be wise for California’s leaders to focus on alternatives that have the greatest job potential and also help us achieve our climate change objectives.”

“Too Big to Believe” is the next installment in Next Generation’s series on the Monterey Shale. To access earlier installments in the series, visit the Next Generation website.


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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