Economist Sees Little Change in Energy Policies During Next Four Years

Two days after the Nov. 6, 2012, election, an economic expert told an oil industry group in Santa Barbara the results of the national and statewide contests will have little effect on the energy policy for the next four years. Apparently, he was right except more oil spills occurred.

Mark Schniepp, head of the Goleta-based California Economic Forecast, spoke before a Nov. 8 gathering of the Santa Barbara Technology & Industry Association, which drew about 50 people to the Reagan Room of Fess Parkers Hotel & Resort.

“I don’t see any change in the next four years,” Schniepp told the audience of mostly oil industry interests who showed up at the “Economic Action Summit: How Will the Election Impact the Economy, Energy and Education?”

The other speakers at the event, oil industry lobbyist Tupper Hull and former Santa Barbara school board member Lanny Ebenstein had little to say about the election, but a great deal to talk about regarding what they see as a great need for more Central Coast oil development.

Hull mainly stated position of the Western States Petroleum Association: Drill, baby, drill. Ebenstein delivered a history lesson on how petroleum has been used on the Central Coast for hundreds of years. He claimed more oil-related tax revenues are the only way California may pay for its school system. When asked about the Tuesday election, he basically said he didn’t want to get political.

However, Schneipp noted that the election saw California voters approve Proposition 30, which he said will create a state budget surplus during the next seven years. “But people will continue to mistakenly hope more green industry jobs will bail us out,” he said.

Schniepp said that won’t begin to happen until after the year 2030, but “will cost us a lot.” He said some 230,000 California jobs will be created in 2013, but the unemployment rate won’t begin to decline to pre-recession levels until 2015. Proposition 30 also will create more school jobs, he said.

“We will build more houses because we need a lot of houses,” Schniepp said, predicting a boost in construction jobs. However, he added, “We need a new (job) engine.”

While not saying much about climate change concerns voiced by many scientists, Schniepp said if California used its vast, untapped oil and natural gas deposits during the next 40 years, it would have billions of dollars in revenue and hundreds of thousands of new jobs.

He admitted state and federal moratoriums on new oil leases make increased petroleum exploration in California unlikely for the moment.

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