Petaluma elected officials are worried about air quality so banning a gas station is the first step they took [Opinion]

When the city of Petaluma. Calif., decided it would ban the construction and operation of new gas stations in its city. it fired the shot heard around the fossil fuel world!

The “well-intended” City Council in March voted unanimously to forbid the construction of new gas stations. Petaluma in Sonoma county became the first city in the US to ban future gas station construction or any new pumps on existing sites. In July Sonoma county’s Regional Climate Protection Authority voted to explore ways to support the nine cities in the county considering bans of their own. A final vote on the resolution is scheduled for this month.

Gas stations being shot down over the impacts of zoning issues, architectural problems, or traffic patterns aren’t uncommon in California, or other states, for that matter.

But shooting down a proposed gas station because it sells fossil fuel-based products such as diesel, gasoline, and compressed natural gas?

It is a first for California and a first for the nation!  California has a lot of “national” firsts on its record books. Some great and some real bad. In my book, this was horrible call and vote. Just like “summer blend gas” that cost California drivers a lot more at the pump than the other 49 states.

What will we ban next? Remember Mayor Bloomberg wanting to ban soda? Why? It makes us fat. Mike may be right but telling us you can’t get a Coke in New York didn’t go over well with Coke lovers or Coke retailers. The Mike Bloomberg idea face-planted and New Yorkers can still get a “Big Gulp” whenever they want it.

Petaluma elected officials are worried about air quality so banning a gas station is the first step they took in cleaning up the air that Petalumites breathe.

So, suddenly a person can’t sell his or her vacant land in Petaluma to the highest bidder? The world knows that you can’t build a gas station on the site, so whatever the developers paid for the site has been devalued irrevocably.

What’s next? Will this “well-meaning” City Council ban drive-thru windows at Carl’s Junior, McDonald’s, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell, El Pollo Loco, Del Taco, or mom and pop shops with a drive-up window?

Following that same “logic“ that banned a gas station on a unanimous vote, the above may make sense to the “forward thinking” Council and staff in Petaluma. Worse, this idea may spread across the nation in blue states, blue counties, and other blue Cities.

The good news for the red states, counties, and cities is that they will sell more gas, diesel, and compressed natural gas to the blue city, county, and state residents looking to fuel up.

As someone who worked in an ARCO AMPM as a high school sophomore and  pumped gas, washed windshields, checked oil levels and tire pressure, I like the cleaner burning fossil fuels American oil producers make today. Unleaded fuels have done great things for our air quality!

As an adult having served as Vice Chairman, Executive Vice President, and Chief Administrative Officer of one America’s most successful ARCO AM PM franchisees, we should all worry about what is happening in Petaluma.

Let’s say it’s a good idea to stop making new gas stations. So, where are we going to get all the energy we need to charge our electric cars at night?

You can’t keep the lights on during fire season or when heat waves hit! I think wind and solar energy are amazing. But they can’t keep the lights on alone without fossil fuels for power.

Problem is, you can’t make enough of it for 35 million people. Imagine what happens in Petaluma in the future when all those well-heeled Tesla types plug in for a recharge and take down the city power grid later in the evening. Petaluma might look like North Korea — completely dark at dusk.

Clean energy such as wind and solar has its place. It is a good thing for those who want to use it and can afford it. We just can’t get enough of the stuff.

Petaluma elected officials and staff fired the shot heard around the globe and every family owned gas station heard it, too!

This discriminatory practice is legal but it isn’t ethical or moral. Americans want cleaner air and petroleum producers, like my late father, have made great strides in cutting air pollution and making the air we all breathe safer.

Until this past January America was an exporter of petroleum products. Today, we are begging OPEC to produce and ship more oil to us. Americans want clean air and affordable fuel for cars and trucks.

Instead we are told to drive less, buy less gas, drive cars that are electric, ride a bus, and trust our government is taking care of us all.

For your reading pleasure, please visit the City of Petaluma Economic Development web pages. They make stuff, process food, technology and more. To move all that stuff they make, they use trucks that need diesel fuel or gasoline!

The Petaluma “Economic Development Division helps business start, connect, and grow.”  Staff will need to update that language to read,  “The Economic Development Division helps business start, connect, and grow UNLESS you are a gas station or your customers or employees get to your business in a diesel truck or gasoline burning car.”


Image Sources

  • Petaluma: Shutterstock