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By David Couch
Kern County Supervisor 

Couch's Corner - Jan. 23, 2020

Oil production important to county


Last updated 1/25/2020 at 4:54am | View PDF

At the Board of Supervisors meeting on Jan. 14, I have to admit, I have never been more proud. The room was packed by concerned citizens from all walks sharing their concerns and points of view on oil production in Kern County, with key officials from Sacramento present. While the state has been talking about the “managed decline” of the oil industry, we here in Kern County have been concerned about those statements and their impact here. In my letter to the state dated Dec. 17, I invited the state to join us for a discussion and we had quite an experience.

People from all over Kern County came and shared with the state officials and each other why Kern County oil production is so important to the state, the country and the world. We showed state officials who may be overinfluenced by the voices in Sacramento why Kern County is the energy capital of the state. We also have more solar and wind energy than anywhere else in California. If the state officials listened, and take back to Sacramento what they heard, who knows, maybe we can change the trajectory California is on, with important impacts far beyond Kern County.

Kern County sits on huge reserves of oil, and this oil is a huge economic driver of our local economy. But there are those who suggest that issues such as global warming require oil production be discontinued, and state officials, through their regulatory and permitting function, have started the process of managing oil’s decline in California.

Problem is, no place in the world is oil production more closely monitored and regulated than in California. Curtailed oil production in Kern County will not influence our appetite to consume oil in our cars, homes, and elsewhere, so until we curtail usage, curtailing oil production simply requires we get our oil from other countries, where human rights may be abused, and where environmental regulations are lax.

In California, oil production is tied to carbon credits and actions that work toward a carbon neutrality, which is what climate activists desire. Only in California can oil production be tied to these positive steps to curtail global warming. All other oil production will comparatively create a worse-off planet than oil production in California, especially Kern County. It’s time we realize that until oil can be replaced to the scale needed for a planet with 8 billion people, we need to produce a cleaner and safer oil here.

Here in Kern County, oil is not the enemy, but a partner, and as they stated at the BOS meeting, they are willing to find solutions beyond just putting our folks to work. Research will help us find solutions, not buying our oil from other countries. Cooperation will be the key to managing this climate threat, and that means the oil producers and the environmental activists need to be in the same room, which, by the way, they were during the BOS meeting. It’s a start.

This is far too complicated to debate all the science, economics and other impacts, here in this article, but in this county, we can continue this discussion, with each other and with the state. We started with a BOS meeting that had more attendees than I have ever seen, and more passion than I can remember, and more import than we can comprehend. It started here, now, with you. And I have never been more proud to be part of this community.

David Couch is county supervisor in for the 4th District, representing the Shafter and Wasco areas. His opinions are his own, and do not necessarily represent those the newspaper.


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