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Local leaders say they'll fight back against California's anti-fossil fuel stance

Posted at 6:26 PM, Dec 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-11 21:26:51-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — As Governor Gavin Newsom continues to crack down on oil production in California, some in Kern County are sounding off about why they think that's a bad idea.

The governor last month announced a ban on new permits for steam-injected oil drilling, a method commonly used in Kern County. The state also declared that new fracking projects won't be approved until they're reviewed by an independent panel of scientists.

23ABC asked a local oil company owner if he and his employees are afraid of what's happening.

"Absolutely. I am. I try not to let them be involved but it's scary," said Chad Hathaway, who owns Hathaway LLC, and oil company.

Hathaway said he is upset about the state's vision for the future of oil and gas. The state announcing a number of new rules in November, including a halt of approvals of new oil extraction wells that use high-pressure steam, a process linked to recent oil leaks in Kern. Namely the Cymric oil field site, where Chevron officials said more than 900,000 gallons of oil and water flowed to the surface following a spill that took place in May. Governor Newsom toured the site in July.

The governor says he wants California to become carbon neutral by 2045. Some officials are worried about the state's ban on steam-injected oil drilling.

"I heard today from a company that had to cancel two contracts because of the governor's recent announcement, $23 million in investment was what was on the line," said Supervisor Zack Scrivner, of Kern County's 2nd district.

And new business isn't the only thing hurting, according to Hathaway. He says the state's anti-oil stance is also hurting day to day operations.

"More than ever now it's hurting the value of our assets. It's hurting the taxable value of the oil and gas properties in kern county, it's killing my ability to raise capital," he said of his business.

Scrivner says the county has a plan to make sure Kern retains it's oil jobs. This will include inviting the local oil industry to provide testimony in front of the Board of Supervisors and creating a coalition of stakeholders to come together to make their voices heard in Sacramento.

"It's crucial that we as a county and as a central valley band together and make sure that Sacremento knows that we're not going to go quietly," Scrivner said.