Today, I want to exhort all of you to tune into the 2 p.m. Jan. 14 Kern County Board of Supervisors meeting. As I stated in my letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom on Dec. 17, 2019, “our goal for the meeting is to promote dialog between (the state’s) Department of Conservation, the County of Kern, the oil industry, and other private and public entities that have a stake in oil and gas production.”

My letter, and the Board of Supervisors meeting, is in response to Gov. Newsom’s stated goal of “managing the decline” of in-state oil production, which would have a great impact on the economy and lives of the people of Kern County. It should be a lesson in how government is supposed to work. The meeting may be a little messy – democracy can be that way sometimes. Reps from the local oil industry and environmental justice groups will be in attendance, as well as key officials from California, and certainly, not all will be in agreement. But I expect the conversation to be respectful, and our goal is to make sure we in Kern County are heard, understood and factored into any decisions that might be made at the state level.

A lot is happening in the energy industry in Kern County and in the world. Kern County is leading the state in renewables like solar and wind. But Kern County is also a major oil producer, and oil is still a driver for our local economy. As the state looks at its actions to curtail greenhouse gases and air pollution, we want to make sure Kern County is not impacted in a negative way. With input from key folks with knowledge and expertise, there are solutions that protect the environment while keeping our energy options open. That’s why it is important to have all the stakeholders at the table.

At this meeting, we expect to hear from the oil industry about the impacts to our economy, the steps taken to make oil production safer and the research it is doing to be a partner in finding solutions to the environmental and energy challenges facing our society.

The environmental justice groups will have a say as well, making sure we consider the impacts of oil production and use to our communities. State officials will be there, too, to share their perspective and to hear from the community on how their actions might affect our lives and livelihood.

Most importantly, I want you to attend, or at least tune in, and provide input. The room may be full that day, so if you choose not to attend, you can at least tune in by going to the county’s website and clicking on the KGOV link.

It’s only through healthy dialogue that we can really solve the challenges we face, not just in the oil industry but in all aspects of our lives. By having these forums, your Kern County government is doing its best to make sure all are heard. It’s how government is supposed to work, in bringing together the voices and concerns, and finding solutions that consider all stakeholders and how they are impacted.

Of course, if you want to share your thoughts on this, or if you have any questions, give us a call at 661-868-3680 or email us at district4@kerncounty.com.

David Couch represents Kern County’s Fourth District.

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