Kern County Approves Plan for Thousands of New Oil and Gas Wells

Kern County Approves Plan for Thousands of New Oil and Gas Wells

March 10, 2021

Monday, the Kern County Board of Supervisors approved a revised ordinance to fast-track the drilling of thousands of new oil and gas wells over the next 15 years and is expected to approve as many as 2,700 new wells a year.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

The revision was necessary after a state appeals court ruled last year that a 2015 ordinance violated the California Environmental Quality Act by not fully evaluating or disclosing environmental damage that could occur from drilling. New drilling permits were not issued while the county returned to the drawing board.

The 2015 ordinance would have allowed up to 72,000 wells, but with a lower cap on annual approvals, that number is now reduced to about 43,000 new wells in the 20-year period ending in 2035.

“What we project is the worst case scenario on many issues,” County Planning Director Lorelei Oviatt said, adding that actual permit numbers in recent years were below the cap.

During a daylong public hearing livestreamed from the board’s Bakersfield chambers, hundreds of people spoke in favor of or against the ordinance by phone. Industry voices spoke to how it would support high-paying jobs and produce oil domestically under some of the strictest environmental laws, instead of depending on dirtier imports for oil.

Supervisor Zack Scrivner said, “Why would we import more when we can produce it here safely and cleaner than anyone else in the world?”

Kern County, about 100 miles north of Los Angeles, is the state’s leading fossil fuel producer and also a major agricultural area. About 1 in 7 workers in the county of 900,000 has a job tied to the oil industry.

We commend Kern County’s board for looking out for the interests of the constituents they represent. Not only will the industry bring immense economic benefits to the county, but it also supports 1 in 7 jobs of residents.