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Press Release: The Climate Conundrum: Can California Boost Oil Output and Meet Global Warming Emissions Goals?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 11, 2013



Next installment in series from Next Generation investigates whether Monterey Shale oil development is compatible with state’s climate leadership

San Francisco, CA – As California’s oil industry gears up for what might be America’s next big oil shale boom in the Monterey Shale, decision makers should ensure that any expansion of oil development in the state is consistent with existing rules aimed at reducing the pollution that causes climate change. That’s the key finding of “The Climate Conundrum,” the next installation in a series of reports on the Monterey Shale by San Francisco-based think tank Next Generation.

“We know there’s a lot of oil – over 15 billion barrels – trapped in the Monterey Shale,” said Next Generation research analyst Robert Collier, who led development of the series. “And we know that developing all of that oil could have significant impacts on the climate. But we don’t know the pace or scale of potential shale development in California; until we do, it will be difficult to make an informed decision about our ability to meet climate objectives while developing shale oil.”

The online series on the Monterey Shale began with an exploration of a little-known oil well stimulation technique known as “acidizing,” and included a detailed technical explanation of the potential risks acidizing poses to human health and the environment.

The Climate Conundrum, released today, presents possible emissions scenarios for Monterey Shale oil development, and includes video commentary from State Senator Fran Pavley, a leading proponent of California’s aggressive climate and clean energy objectives.

According to Next Generation’s research, the climate impacts of Monterey Shale development will vary depending on several factors, including the speed of production, the amount of energy needed to transport and refine the oil, and even the location of the oil fields.

“California is at the leading edge of climate and energy policy nationwide – and Californians are proud of that,” said Kate Gordon, Vice President and Director of the Energy and Climate Program at Next Generation. “It’s imperative that we not get swept up in a boom mentality that could make it harder for us to achieve our goals. While it’s theoretically possible that new California oil development is compatible with our efforts to reduce climate pollution, the jury is out until we know the scale and speed of oil field production.”

“California’s citizens are clearly on the side of taking a measured approach to fossil fuel development,” said Matt James, President and Co-Founder of Next Generation. “While we’re working to move our state off of oil, we know we’re not there yet – but part of the process of weaning ourselves includes careful deliberation about our choices.”

The Climate Conundrum” is the third installment in Next Generation’s four-part series on Monterey Shale development. The fourth installment will be released next week, and focuses in more detail on the possible conflict between California’s landmark energy and climate objectives and the reality of a potential oil boom. The series runs exclusively on 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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