According to data from the California state government, gasoline sold in California increased from 942,000 barrels per day (BPD) in 2012 to over 1,012,000 BPD in 2018, an average annual increase of 1.2%, The increase in diesel sold was even greater – averaging a 2.9% average annual increase over the same period.
Most barrels used in California but not produced in California come from overseas due to lack of interstate crude oil transport. That, along with California’s declining oil production, means California’s dependence on foreign oil imports has steadily grown in recent years. In fact, California’s foreign oil imports have tripled in the past 20 years. This is in stark contrast to most U.S. states, which have seen crude oil imports plunge in recent years.
According to an analysis of California Air Resources Board (CARB) data, California imports 58.7% of the oil it consumes from outside the U.S. Nearly half of this foreign crude imported into California goes through the Strait of Hormuz. In fact, California now has more crude coming in through the Strait of Hormuz than it produces.
Of course, should California’s war on oil begin to reduce the state’s oil consumption, the picture will begin to change. But at present, California’s significant dependence on the Hormuz transportation route puts the state at risk for supply disruption. This is a national security issue as California is the most populous state. This national security issue puts American interests in danger and furthers tensions in the region.
As a result, while much of the U.S. has become far less dependent on foreign crude oil, California remains at the whims of foreign powers. This vulnerability is a big reason the U.S. reacts to defend supplies that move through easily attacked shipping routes.
If California fights against oil producers in its own state — but doesn’t reduce demand — that oil will come from somewhere else. And that “somewhere else” may not have the same human rights protections or environmental protections as California.