BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — For more than two hours the planning commission of Kern County hosted a meeting to discuss this oil well ordinance that calls for 40,000 new oil wells over the next two decades. Thursday night we heard from residents who both support and a great deal who oppose the ordinance.
"So I want the Kern County's industry to transition to clean energy and sustainability. It is time to fade out, oil and gas, no more permanent approval. I don't care about x number of well permits, make it 0 drillings we need zero drillings to avoid climate change and critical damage for frontline communities and ecosystems. I have to breathe the same damn air pollution of the oil and gas industry causes higher this crap. Ban it," as said by a 17-year-old, one of the dozens who oppose the oil well ordinance that could bring thousands of more oil wells to Kern County.
The ordinance has been discussed for years but it was discontinued after environmental concerns.
During the meeting on Thursday, the planning commission director presented an updated version of the ordinance.
"The changes to the ordinance are in these three areas, the mandatory setbacks, from sensitive receptors. The reduction in the annual cap and the maximum number of new wells that could be drilled. And then in the ASR, new mitigation for impacts to designated farmland noise and water," said Lorelei Oviatt.
The director says, in fact, they are not calling for 67,000 new oils in Kern County but instead 45,000, and will keep the 300-foot setbacks, this was changed for 4 years for 210 feet in distance for places like schools, churches and hospitals.
Throughout the meeting, more than 20 residents called in to share their thoughts about the ordinance, with more than 100 people leaving voice messages. Although there were a number of individuals against the ordinance due to environmental concerns. There were some like the Kern county Hispanic chamber of commerce who expressed it was their livelihood.
"The oil and gas industry has provided Hispanic men and women a way to economically thrive, regardless of background education or experience. The industry has embraced our Latino culture. And that's hard work and transformed into an opportunity. On behalf of the current County chamber of commerce, we support this."
The meeting is now over, the planning commission says they will resume listening to public comments in the form of voicemail Friday at 9 a.m.