The Origin of Oil, AQMD, and the Oil Industry

Posted by on March 18, 2016

We use it every day, but we rarely think about the origins of oil and gas.

Petroleum is a fossil fuel. Three hundred million years ago, plankton and microbes floating in an ancient lake, through decomposition and underground pressure, were transformed into oil.

So what have we done with this gift from the Paleozoic, this compressed essence of life? We burn it in the engines of Escalades and Tahoes and Suburbans.

Oil companies want you to think they made oil. They did not. They extracted it and refined it, but the source material preceded them by a million generations. The industry’s mismanagement of oil, allowing it to spew inefficiently, is now contributing to climate change.

And, now, in Los Angeles, the oil companies have successfully organized a coup, and placed their favorite politicians in charge of the region’s air enforcement agency. New management at the South Coast Air Quality Management District is letting up on LA’s oil industry, allowing them to pollute above stipulated levels, turning LA a little more fossil-like. We deserve better.

— Jonathan Parfrey