Accessible oil reserves are four times as large as the Bakken Shale oilfield in North Dakota that is partly responsible for dropping that state's unemployment rate to 3.3 percent, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.
Oil revenues from California's oil boom in the early 20th century fueled the growth of small towns like Taft, but the latest focus is on Monterey shale where an estimated 15.4 billion barrels of oil have become accessible with new drilling techniques, such as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.
The university study said Monterey shale reserves have the potential to generate $4.5 billion in oil-related tax by 2015.
Southern California environmental issues abound, including desecration of farmland, possible pollution of drinking water and raising the risk of seismic activity, the Times said.
As such, it is hard to say if or when the Monterey Shale bed will be productive, given the arguments about environmental impact that are all but guaranteed, observers say.