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Kern County’s lawsuit against Governor Newsom thrown out

"We are resolved to continue the fight."
fracking
Posted at 4:42 PM, May 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-05 21:22:45-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Less than a year after Kern County sued Governor Gavin Newsom over his announcement that California would cease issuing fracking permits by 2024, the case has been thrown out.

A Fresno Superior Court Judge deemed it a strategic lawsuit against public participation.

SLAPP suits are defined as lawsuits deemed to be targeting a person’s constitutional right of free speech, or to petition, in connection with a public issue.

That’s the conclusion the court came to about the County of Kern V. Gavin Newsom.

According to County Chief Administrative Officer Ryan Alsop, Kern's oil and gas industry funds $80 million in tax revenue for the county.

That money he said goes into public safety, mental health services, parks and libraries.

So, he said the county is disappointed the suit was dismissed.

“The Governor’s actions also show no regard for our county’s workers and their families, or for the critical public safety and other vital services funded by our century-old oil and gas industry. We are resolved to continue the fight to hold the Governor’s administration accountable and to ensure our important oil and gas industry continues to provide high-paying jobs to our local workforce, producing a substantial impact on our regional economy.”

Senator of California's 16th District Shannon Grove, weighed in on this outcome with the same sentiment.

“I believe the Fresno court’s decision is wrong and I am glad that industry leaders will pursue this issue to show that Governor Newsom and CalGEM are acting outside of their authority. When global energy supplies are uncertain, we should be doing everything we can to expand production in California.”

Here’s how a spokesperson from the governor’s office responded to us: “Kern County’s lawsuit against the Governor had no legal footing and the court was right to reject it. We continue to collaborate with all partners on regulating oil and gas production towards our state’s commitment to protect public health, safety, and the environment.”

Kern County alleged that Newsom’s executive order is the equivalent of a de-facto ban on fracking.

The court states it’s ultimately the California Geologic Energy Management Division’s, or Cal Gem, Supervisor that has the charge to approve or deny permits.

The court deemed that Newsom did not act outside his executive authority under the state constitution or violate separation of powers.

They further say, Kern County has no proof that Newsom took action to deny "all well permits."

The minutes state that the remedy to the situation Kern County asked for would limit Newsom’s public statements and keep him from exercising his executive duties.

Alsop gave us a statement, saying regardless he was proud of the county being the first to challenge Newsom on this matter.

“The Governor’s actions also show no regard for our county’s workers and their families, or for the critical public safety and other vital services funded by our century-old oil and gas industry. We are resolved to continue the fight to hold the Governor’s administration accountable and to ensure our important oil and gas industry continues to provide high-paying jobs to our local workforce, producing a substantial impact on our regional economy.”

We also reached out to Fresno Superior Court, but they told us the judge who issued the ruling was unavailable for an interview.