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Planning commission to discuss oil well ordinance, Kern County leaders express support, opposition

Posted at 6:18 PM, Feb 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-11 21:19:43-05

KERN COUNTY, Calif. — All week, we’ve been following an ordinance that could bring thousands of more oil wells to Kern County, and the planning commission will discuss the latest plans during a public meeting Thursday.

This ordinance has been in the works for years and recently many local leaders have voiced their opinions, both favoring and opposing the ordinance.

“This is what Kern County does, we produce the oil and gas so well for our entire state,” said Tracy Leach, director of Kern Citizens for Energy.

“Oil and gas are a significant contributor to climate change,” said Elizabeth Perez, community organizer, Central California Environmental Justice Network.

The initial review of an ordinance that would allow for thousands of new oil wells to be added throughout Kern County over the next 20 years was approved by the board of supervisors back a few years ago.

However, it was discontinued after environmental concerns.

Since then, adjustments were made, and now the county’s planning commission is reviewing the ordinance which is calling for 67,000 new oils in Kern County.

“The county and planning staff have been working on an environmental review, for a better part of a year and they will present that project to the planning commissioners and those commissioners will get to recommend a yes vote or not,” said Leach.

Local leaders have spoken about their opposition to the ordinance and believe it could bring negative health impacts to the community.

“The county should focus their attention on how to diversify our economy by inviting new clean and innovative industries that can provide clean jobs and ultimately companies that can provide contract jobs under union representation,” said Juan Flores, community organizer, Center On Race, Poverty and The Environment.

While others like Tracy Leach, director of Kern Citizens for Energy have voiced their support for the ordinance because of the economic benefits.

“Keep 25,000 more jobs, one out of seven jobs in Kern County is due to the oil industry,” said Leach.

Kevin McCarthy, House minority leader, has also shown that he is pro-oil after a press conference Thursday morning criticizing Joe Biden's steps to move away from being reliant on oil and natural gas, and how it will impact jobs

“And the response that we get, is that these people can go make solar panels. Well, you know what happens? There are not enough solar panels to make, the jobs don’t pay the same,” said McCarthy.

You can watch the meeting here, starting at 7 p.m.