Kern County's days as a capital of crude oil production are numbered. California is seeing to that. Bakersfield hasn't reached the end of that road but we can see the T intersection ahead in the distance.

In no uncertain terms, Gov. Gavin Newsom has made clear that this state will continue working toward a carbon-neutral future, and task one is eliminating the practices and institutions that inhibit that quest. 

"That's California's identity," Newsom said during a visit last month to the site of a west Kern oil spill. "It's who we are. It's what we do better than anyone else."

Indeed it is. California has been working toward a green economy on several fronts for years. Then, last month, Newsom put his signature on a state budget that includes $1.5 million to study a managed decline of the state’s oil production.

That is, the managed decline of Kern County's top, non-farming industry.

Many will cheer Newsom's larger objective, and some will sneer, but the fact is, without a suitable replacement, shutting down the California oil industry will devastate the economy of a region that is already among the state's poorest.

It's not enough to declare that Kern County leaders must dedicate their efforts to the diversification of this economy. That is a given. Kern County must identify a champion newcomer of depth and potential, and pursue it.

Some will point to logistics — warehousing, to translate — but those jobs are not high-paying, certainly not in the six-figure orbit of oil industry jobs. And since logistics relies on overland truck traffic, it is not environmentally friendly and so runs counter to the whole purpose of this grand undertaking by California.

If the state taketh away, however, so must it give.

Newsom's green government must help lure an auspicious replacement to Bakersfield. Computer manufacturing. Biotechnology research. Semiconductor development.

Or, most appropriately, renewable energy research, development and manufacturing.

All of those industries will require investments in education — new or enhanced programs at Bakersfield College, CSU Bakersfield and other regional institutions that can train workers for these new employers.

Would state-level tax breaks be enough to attract a player, or players, of such scale that the pain of a diminished oil industry might sufficiently ease? That's hard to imagine. We'll need more than that.

Public-private partnerships, already common in infrastructure development, might be worthy of discussion. Could that model translate to rooted, brick-and-mortar workplaces? I don't know if the framework for an undertaking like that exists yet.

This "managed decline" study, underway now under the auspices of the University of California, will "evaluate pathways to achieve a carbon neutral economy by 2045, manage the decline of in-state production as the state’s fossil fuel demand decreases, and assess potential impacts to disadvantaged and low-income communities and strategies to address those impacts."

It must also look at what removing such a vital regional industry will do to a local economy.

The local oil industry employs about 10,000 people directly, and 30,000 work in associated jobs. But this isn't just about jobs and their trickle down effect on the community's overall quality of life.

Oil company holdings are one of county government's top sources of property tax revenue. As we have seen in Kern County, even a marginal dip in the value of those lands, due most often to low oil prices, can result in drastic decreases in public services, including law enforcement.

Environmentalists want to see the state's oil extraction business shut down sooner rather than later, but Newsom — somebody — needs to make the point that the state's economy still runs on fossil fuels and will for decades to come. The oil pumped out of Kern County wells is subject to some of the most stringent environmental regulations in the world. Turning off the pumps in the southern San Joaquin just so California can turn to foreign exporters with dirtier extraction practices makes no sense.

Newsom is aware of all this, of course.

"Before we do anything precipitously, before we do anything audaciously, (people need to know) that we have their back and that we have something better that's more (economically) significant than what we have today," he said during that Kern County stop on July 24.

"I want to be very honest with people that we're not going to leave anyone behind," he said.

Can we take him at his word? In his first State of the State address in February, Newsom gave the Central Valley an encouraging shout-out.

"Merced, Fresno, Bakersfield and communities in between are more dynamic than many realize," Newsom said. "The Valley may be known around the world for agriculture, but there is another story ready to be told."

We're all ears, governor. This would be a good time to tell it.

Contact The Californian’s Robert Price at 661-395-7399, or on Twitter: @stubblebuzz. His column appears on Sundays, Wednesdays and Saturdays; the views expressed are his own.

(21) comments


A partial list of products made from Petroleum (144 of 6000 items)

One 42-gallon barrel of oil creates 19.4 gallons of gasoline. The rest (over half) is used to make things like:

Solvents Diesel fuel Motor Oil Bearing Grease

Ink Floor Wax Ballpoint Pens Football Cleats

Upholstery Sweaters Boats Insecticides

Bicycle Tires Sports Car Bodies Nail Polish Fishing lures

Dresses Tires Golf Bags Perfumes

Cassettes Dishwasher parts Tool Boxes Shoe Polish

Motorcycle Helmet Caulking Petroleum Jelly Transparent Tape

CD Player Faucet Washers Antiseptics Clothesline

Curtains Food Preservatives Basketballs Soap

Vitamin Capsules Antihistamines Purses Shoes

Dashboards Cortisone Deodorant Shoelace Aglets

Putty Dyes Panty Hose Refrigerant

Percolators Life Jackets Rubbing Alcohol Linings

Skis TV Cabinets Shag Rugs Electrician’s Tape

Tool Racks Car Battery Cases Epoxy Paint

Mops Slacks Insect Repellent Oil Filters

Umbrellas Yarn Fertilizers Hair Coloring

Roofing Toilet Seats Fishing Rods Lipstick

Denture Adhesive Linoleum Ice Cube Trays Synthetic Rubber

Speakers Plastic Wood Electric Blankets Glycerin

Tennis Rackets Rubber Cement Fishing Boots Dice

Nylon Rope Candles Trash Bags House Paint

Water Pipes Hand Lotion Roller Skates Surf Boards

Shampoo Wheels Paint Rollers Shower Curtains

Guitar Strings Luggage Aspirin Safety Glasses

Antifreeze Football Helmets Awnings Eyeglasses

Clothes Toothbrushes Ice Chests Footballs

Combs CD’s & DVD’s Paint Brushes Detergents

Vaporizers Balloons Sun Glasses Tents

Heart Valves Crayons Parachutes Telephones

Enamel Pillows Dishes Cameras

Anesthetics Artificial Turf Artificial limbs Bandages

Dentures Model Cars Folding Doors Hair Curlers

Cold cream Movie film Soft Contact lenses Drinking Cups

Fan Belts Car Enamel Shaving Cream Ammonia

Refrigerators Golf Balls Toothpaste Gasoline

Yep, can't wait to hear Newsom's plan to replace all of these items and rid California of all carbon and "fossil fuelishness." I am sure he and others will find wonderful replacements for the over 5000 other basic products made from petroleum. I know he will try his hardest, while walking up the freeway . . . Oooops, no cement or asphalt? No problem. On the dirt, then. Barefoot? Sure. No shoes of plastics or glue to hold rubber soles in place. I mean, will he choose not to fly in that airplane? Who needs lubricants, which are based in petroleum for the high speed rail products? Nah! From Gray to Brown to Nuisance. When will CA ever learn? As long as there is enough hair gel, Gavin's mirror will be all smiles.


Our state has given up working for the people and simply trying to impress their liberal and insane buddies. They want the state for themselves and drive all the sane people out. What is left will be the liberal elites, Weinstein, Epstein (god bless his soul) and those who vote for insanity rather than rationality.


Veritas old buddy old pal and his blue hippo computer sharing sidekick Gary johns. Hi! Yes, I know the truth hurts, but get used to it. Times changing faster than you thought, huh? Lol

As for Price’s take on a past post—he enjoys the luxury of selective editing of posts which change meaning and context—which he does to excess, in order to appear to own the superior position on discussions. Sad really. But he knows and I know, as do readers of post in its entirety, so his is a pathetic and desperate “ victory” of sorts. Truth is the Californian is said to be in discussions to can him. May stem from his inadequacy in his position or something minor, like his photo revealing that one crazy or severe-squinty eye of his. Folks enjoy breakfast as they read the news. Who really wants to see a leaky orb across from them for breakfast?

Perhaps Veritas and Gary johns. Lol. Me? I’ll pass on Bruce with Squinty McGinty!


Mrdelusional, I enjoy getting a rise out of you. I can tell when I ruffle your feathers because you try to write more clearly. As for your claim you have inside information Price may be getting fired, I find that interesting. Since you have connections at the Californian maybe you can get them to hire you to take his place. Your blathering would surely be a good source of amusement for their readers and therefore help them sell more subscriptions. Lastly, I don’t know GaryJ and that was mean of him to make fun of your colostomy bag. I would never do that to a person in your condition. Have a good day.

Boogerface Nutter

I'd say I'm an environmentalist but I'm also a realist. We're taking steps to get off the oil economy but it's not going to happen for many years. I'd doubt by 2045.

Like the governor says, we can't get off the hydrocarbon fuels until there is a viable alternative. The operative word is "viable".

I'll have to wait and see.


Time for a New California State!


Is Bobby P asking . . . or hoping . . . ?

Spavined Gavin' IS sliding towards the $$'s 'trash can (all plastic >> petro's biggest ap)! "Green machine" soy/corn/ethanol farming, where the synth "rubber hits the road" (or row crop), can't even move without 'oiling'. Hydro & steam power plants (charging stations) >> few (need oil) . . . and far between >> as oil-fired gen plants proliferate past solar/wind (also need oil). Nukes (also need oil)? Welcome to California.

Let's all meet at the 'Petro Club' and share REAL 'Oil Stories', while greasing the skids for "Gruesome Newsom" to follow Gray Davis.

( )


Few days ago, I think I took your post the wrong way. I apologize. No excuse but my meds that I take evens out after a few hours. Your post is perfectly stated on here. Hope you can accept my apology.


This will never happen. Once the Latinos vote wakes up and realizes that the California Democrat has kept them in poverty and oil was to stop Kern County and the State of California will be like Valenzuela in 3 years. Just when latino and black employment is up under Trump, Democrat Socialist want to send you back 35 years. Latinos are need to wise up and vote Republican


Lmao!!! Hopefully you work in oil and have to relocate to the Middle East


Huey Long....Calling Huey Long....


Great news. Bako coming out of dark ages. Price crying: Dniffle—Gov needs to help. We’ll need so so much assistance. Y’all backwards thinkers don’t sound so proud now as Dylan would say. Begging for a hand-out. Straight out pleading for welfare. Yet you turn your noses up st those who need a lil helping hand up. No tech firms are coming. They don’t wish to roast in 100 degree summers nor listen to country music n conservative Trump radio stations. McCarthy n that jazz they no embrace. So Bako the narrow minded getting just desserts in spades. Where’s the arrogance now? Now you want government socialism to rescue you but won’t vote progressive. Cali won’t rescue you. Nobody in Cali state politics of REAL power has sympathy for what you have done and ways you practiced for decades. Welcome to the other side of the tracks.


Check your colostomy bag partner. I think it’s backed up into your brain….


That's funny Gary!!! I'll have to remember that line. LOL!!!!!!


Ah, the disjointed ramblings continue. I thought after you got slapped down by Price In his response to your Letter to the Editor you had stopped. I can’t tell if you are a Troll or just mentally disturbed. Ignore, like we do with ADUMER, or feel sorry for you? I just don’t know which way to go at this point. Regale us some more with your rambling prose.

Thomas Murphy

^ DON'T understand physics

Thomas Murphy

The study to manage the decline of California's oil production is a waste of time and taxpayer money. Californian's demand for oil is still increasing! Even if the state could somehow manage to limit production each year, the oil will still be imported from other nations across the Pacific. How hypocritical. This scenario is unlikely to play out.

The "leave it in the ground rhetoric" is utter non-sense and is a waste of time to keep bringing up. In the United States, oil is a private held mineral right (it is private property) and the government has no authority to arbitrary decide to limit the production of that private resource. If they did, they would lose in court and have to pay the mineral owners for the fair market value of remaining reserves.

The other unfortunate truth is that there is no realistic alternative to achieve any of these aggressive goals to be net zero by 2045 or 2050. These are just dreams from idiots who understand physics. You should read the paper "The New Energy Economy: An Exercise in Magical Thinking". Here's a link:

Don't be surprised if Gavin Newsom is removed from office. Two recall petitions were submitted to the Secretary of State last week. Newsom's disapproval rating is spiking over the past 3 months for many reasons and our utility rates are going up over 6% for something he signed.


Newsom isn’t going anywhere. You however will be going to the unemployment line unless you learn some new job skills

99 Cent Comedian

Gavin Newsom reminds me of a sleepy used car salesman. Phony.


Taking an aim at a Conservative area is what that’s about. I hope they can recall this fool.


It's not Newsome who needs to change, its Kern County. We live in a blue state, the seat of the resistance to everything Red. We have always been 10 years ahead of the rest of the country. Sorry y'all. Time to grow up and start taking care of the planet!

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