Federalism and the Unruly California Oil Market

Paul Sabin

in Crude Politics

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 2004 | ISBN: 9780520241985
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520931145 | DOI:
Federalism and the Unruly California Oil Market

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At the start of the 1930s California oil producers and state government leaders explored national limits on imports as a way to solve the oil market problem but they were turned away by the Hoover administration. Although the major oil companies claimed that the Sharkey oil commission would bring “financial security,” some independent operators complained about the “great hardship” that the Sharkey bill would impose. The core leadership of the Oil Producers Sales Agency strongly backed the Sharkey bill when it came up on a ballot referendum in May 1932. The defeat of the Sharkey bill left a regulatory vacuum that oil industry leaders lamented as they criticized the narrow-mindedness of California voters. Oil operators sought to eliminate destructive competition by ordering and controlling the oil market to their advantage. Public and private regulation of the market prevented competitive overproduction by thoroughly squandering California's petroleum resources and from lowering oil prices to levels that would cause widespread well closures.

Keywords: oil market; California; federalism; Sharkey bill; petroleum resources; oil prices; Oil Producers Sales Agency

Chapter.  8327 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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