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One way to break oil dependence: Don't drill

One way to break oil dependence: Don't drill
Oil derricks near the La Paloma Generating Station in McKittrick in 2017. (Gary Kazanjian / Associated Press)

To the editor: California needs to break its oil dependence, as Severin Borenstein notes in his critique of our recent study. Avoiding the worst of climate change (think more fires) involves getting off oil, but Borenstein argues phasing out California’s oil production is a step too far. His main reason is that doing so would benefit the global oil industry.

This abstract, economic logic gives too little weight to the obvious upsides of leaving oil undeveloped: California can reduce emissions, better position itself for a low-carbon future and demonstrate global leadership, all while responding to environmental justice concerns at home.

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We agree with Borenstein that further enrichment of oil producers — here in the U.S. as well as under autocratic regimes abroad — can be antithetical to democracy and income equality, as well as to achieving climate goals. But the most direct response to that risk would be to start here, by transitioning away from oil, both in its use and supply.

Peter Erickson and Michael Lazarus, Seattle

The writers are scientists at the Stockholm Environment Institute.

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To the editor: How can a professor at UC Berkeley write an op-ed article about the economics of leaving oil in the ground, make the case that this will cost consumers more, yet not mention that consumers can just switch to an electric vehicle and power it with solar energy for much less money?

I’ve been driving electric vehicles and powering them with solar energy for more than 15 years. My solar photovoltaic system paid for itself in 2010, so since then, and for the rest of my life, I can power my home, cars and motorcycles on free, clean electricity.

That is the complete opposite of what Borenstein says will happen if we keep California’s oil in the ground.

Paul Scott, Santa Monica

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