Much of the petroleum produced in California over the past 150 years has sprung from a jumble of rocks known as the Monterey shale formation. To some, the costs of using advanced technologies to unlock oil that remains tightly bound in the Monterey appear too high. Landscapes atop the shale include habitats for protected species such as the San Joaquin Kit fox, the California Condor, and blunt-nosed leopard lizard.
The path toward cleaner cars will be walked in tiny steps. There’s a place for all-electric and even semi-autonomous vehicles, but tweaks to designs that burn gasoline will deliver much of the fuel-economy gains expected in the coming decades.