The Breakdown | Explaining Southern California's economy
Business & Economy

Study: Oil industry major driver of California economy



Pump jacks and wells are seen in an oil field on the Monterey Shale formation where gas and oil extraction using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is on the verge of a boom on March 23, 2014
Pump jacks and wells are seen in an oil field on the Monterey Shale formation where gas and oil extraction using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is on the verge of a boom on March 23, 2014
David McNew/Getty Images

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Every few years, the Western States Petroleum Association runs the hard numbers on how much money and how many jobs gush from oil and gas production.  The lobbying group for the oil industry isn’t shy about the power of black gold in the Golden State.  

Its latest study, produced by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, says the petroleum industry was responsible for 468,000 California jobs in 2012.  WSPA president Catherine Reheis-Boyd says nearly half of those jobs are in the six counties of Southern California, and Los Angeles County in particular.

"When you look at Los Angeles County alone, it earns  $5.2 billion annually in tax revenues that are generated by the petroleum industry," Reheis-Boyd says.  "And nearly 6.5 % of Los Angeles County’s entire economic output can be traced to the petroleum industry."

She’s hoping state lawmakers are paying attention, as they consider passing a moratorium on fracking, the process of extracting oil and gas trapped between layers of rock.  

Environmentalists oppose the practice, and Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously for its own moratorium, but Reheis-Boyd says it could create even more California jobs.

"We already knew that big oil is big business, so that doesn't come as any surprise," says Bill Magavern, Policy Director for the Coalition for Clean Air.  "I think that most Californians also realize that our addiction to oil is actually costing us a lot."

Between air pollution and high gas prices, Magavern says he’d rather see the state help oil industry workers find jobs in cleaner forms of energy.