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Gov. Newsom can’t tax the state out of its energy crisis
Vince Fong
Assemblyman Vince Fong

California is defined by its crises. The affordability crisis gripping the state is only intensifying with rising gas prices, energy volatility and unreliable power.

With gas prices over $6 a gallon, and with the average household buying 90 gallons of gas per month, that is a crippling $600 a month just to drive. Rising energy costs are causing the price of all necessities to increase as well. Family finances are stretched to the breaking point.

These consequences have been worsened over time because of the poor policies from Sacramento.

Since Gov. Gavin Newsom took office, the gas tax has increased four times.

Instead of taking immediate action to suspend the gas tax to ease the financial pain inflicted by near record gas prices, the governor has been more focused on making splashy headlines. At a time when Californians are demanding affordable and reliable energy, he wants a special session of the legislature to increase taxes on energy production. This made news headlines but how will this lower prices for the men and women who have to drive to work?

Gov. Newsom is not going to be able to tax-and-spend his way out an energy crisis he helped create. He is trying to distract Californians from the real-life consequences of his poor policies. For years, continuous warnings have been made and ignored by this administration as refining capacity was reduced, domestic energy production was curtailed, and needed energy infrastructure was not built.

Middle- and low-income earners, many of whom simply have to drive to and from work, are paying a larger share of their income for gas. Californians literally cannot afford the governor’s out-of-touch energy decisions. It does not have to be this way.

California energy producers produce about 391,000 barrels of oil per day, and they stand ready to do more.

These California energy producers yield the cleanest oil in the most environmentally sensitive way — under world class safety and emissions regulations and with limited transportation costs and emissions to meet California demand. All of the oil produced in California is used in California.

The men and women of the energy sector power our state — the fifth-largest economy in the world. They contribute to our communities. Their estimated $21.5 billion in state and local taxes pay for essential services — police, fire and education.

When the governor attacks domestic oil production, he is making California more dependent on foreign sources of oil. California currently imports 70 percent of the oil and gas it uses each year from places like Saudi Arabia, Ecuador and Iraq — countries that do not share our values or our environmental or labor standards. This percentage will inevitably increase as domestic production decreases — a direct result of policies driven by Gov. Newsom.

As governor of California, he can declare an emergency and bring immediate relief. He can suspend the gas tax, reduce the fees and regulations that make California gas so much more expensive and grant permits to increase production of needed oil and natural gas to lower energy costs.

More taxes is not the answer. The Central Valley is the energy capital of California — oil, natural gas, wind, solar, hydro and geothermal. We do it all to power and fuel the needs of 40 million Californians. Immediate, common-sense actions are needed to bring affordable energy back. This does not require a special session, but it requires the governor to exercise the political will.

Vince Fong, a Bakersfield Republican, represents the 34th Assembly district.