Gov. Gavin Newsom's plan to shrink and possibly phase out California oil production won't go unchallenged by politicians in the state's petroleum capital, Kern County's Board of Supervisors decided Tuesday.
The board voted 5-0 to invite the industry to come make a public presentation about the impacts of new oil regulations, organize a coalition to tell Sacramento about the industry's local importance and consider declaring an "economic crisis" if facts support it.
"The arrogance and hypocrisy of this administration to deny Californians access to our own natural resources is appalling," said the measure's author, Second District Supervisor Zack Scrivner. "Enough is enough."
Tuesday's board action appears to be the first political push-back against talk of "managing the decline" of California oil production. It came three weeks after the Newsom administration unveiled a three-pronged regulatory plan to expand the oil crackdown the governor began last summer.
Newsom, under pressure from environmental activists looking for firmer action than former Gov. Jerry Brown took against oil, has also included $1.5 million in the state budget to fund a study looking at how to cut petroleum supply and demand in California as the state moves toward its stated goal of carbon neutrality by 2045.
More than three-quarters of California's in-state oil production originates in Kern County, where according to a recent study the industry supports 23,900 oil and gas jobs.
The measure approved by supervisors Tuesday calls on County Administrative Officer Ryan Alsop and Kern's director of planning and natural resources, Lorelei Oviatt, to invite the oil industry to make a presentation to the board about their ability to operate in California and maintain a stable business amid increased regulation.
It also calls on Alsop and Oviatt to organize a coalition supportive of the industry that will tell the governor and Sacramento politicians how valuable oil and gas production is to local neighborhoods and families.
Alsop and Oviatt were further ordered to report back to the board on the likely impacts of the governor's "threat to the fiscal stability of the county." The measure says the board can contemplate making an economic-crisis declaration, if such action is seen as justified.
Scrivner called the governor's anti-oil actions "irresponsible and insulting," saying Kern has worked extensively to regulate the industry "in a way that protects our air, water and neighborhoods and at an increased cost to our local oil producers."
Newsom's office did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday afternoon.