Kern County officials say they're prepared for a big turnout at what could become a contentious meeting about the future of petroleum production in the heart of California's oil patch.
Many hundreds of local residents are expected to show up Tuesday in support of the industry at a 2 p.m. meeting of the Kern Board of Supervisors at its chambers inside the county's administrative offices at 1115 Truxtun Ave.
The meeting is planned to include testimony by state officials being asked to explain Gov. Gavin Newsom's recent crackdown on industry practices, as well as California's stated goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2045.
Kern is responsible for about 80 percent of California's in-state oil production. The industry provides 14,213 direct jobs in the county, and supports another 9,687 positions indirectly. It also provides $925 million in annual state and local tax revenue.
An industry-funded group called Kern Citizens for Energy has asked its supporters, who on social media number more than 10,000, to demonstrate their support by showing up at the afternoon meeting.
Prior to the board meeting, at 12:30 p.m., the environmental justice group Center for Race, Poverty and the Environment plans to convene a news conference outside the county building calling for what it calls a "just transition" away from oil and gas dependence toward a more diverse economy.
"A transition is happening anyway whether Kern decision-makers want to believe it or not. The question to them is, do they (Kern County) want to be a part of that imminent green transition for California?” Juan Flores, community organizer for CRPE, said in a news release Monday.
County spokeswoman Megan Person said by email Monday that officials will focus on making sure the meeting is accessible and safe for anyone who wants to attend.
"That's true of all our meetings," she wrote.
"The county is familiar with large audiences and topics that generate considerable public interest," she wrote.
She recommended that anyone who does not wish to attend but wants to monitor the proceedings watch the county's YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmUJZiUo7nYq2x3IOnPqd5A.