An oil pump station works in a field off Merced Road in March.

Opponents of Kern's efforts to streamline local oil and gas permitting launched a campaign Thursday intended to persuade the county Board of Supervisors to back off the initiative.

Asserting the county's success would nearly double the number of oil wells operating locally, the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment joined other environmental justice groups in calling on residents in Kern and elsewhere to write letters to the board and Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Activists say petroleum operations located near homes and schools threaten human health. Environmental groups have also opposed the county's effort, saying it would increase oil extraction and ultimately accelerate climate change.

County officials, whose original permitting effort was approved by the board in 2015 but thrown out on appeal earlier this year, counter that the zoning ordinance they are attempting to revive institutes clean-air measures and other environmental protections that would not exist otherwise.

The board is expected to vote on the project before the end of this year. But first it would go before the county Planning Commission, which is scheduled Nov. 12 to consider an environmental review at the heart of the effort.

CRPE's petition can be found online here: https://crpe-ej.org/StopKernOilOrdinance.