Chad Hathaway draws a sample from his produced water injection well north of Bakersfield.

The state's war on oil comes to the front lines this week.

The California Environmental Protection Agency will host a public workshop Wednesday evening at Bakersfield College's Norman Levan Center, where EPA officials, along with representatives of partner agencies, will solicit public input on two state-funded studies that focus on California's quest to achieve ambitious carbon neutrality goals by 2045. A second workshop will be held the following evening in the Los Angeles County city of Wilmington, home of the third-largest producing oilfield in the Lower 48 states.

The 2019-20 state budget authorizes $3 million for two studies: One to identify strategies to significantly reduce emissions from vehicles, and the other to determine how the state might decrease the demand and supply of fossil fuels. Specifically, the second study seeks to figure out how to manage a major reduction in oil and gas extraction throughout California.

It's that last part about decreasing supply that will be of particular interest in Bakersfield, where a steady flow of oil fuels the local economy in a significant way.

"The handwriting's on the wall, and it's been on the wall for a while," said Bakersfield's Paul Gipe, an authority on renewable energy. "Kern County is the most vulnerable county in the state: Not only are we affected by climate change, with drought and such, we're also the ones who pump all the oil which contributes to it. The county (government) hasn't really paid attention to the topic; they've kept their heads in the sand, and now the state is bringing the conversation to us. So I guess that's good."

A primary focus for the researchers involved in the study will be mitigating the damage to the community's economic health sure to follow a major decline in oil production. That will be a challenging task in Kern County, where oil is the No. 2 employer, constitutes 16 percent of the economy, pays an outsized share of services-funding property taxes and accounts for a huge chunk of local philanthropic giving.

What kind of industry can replace all that, and presumably in the span of just a few years? Good question.

"It's important that they come up with a plan for a just transition away from oil," said Gordon Nipp, vice chair of the Sierra Club's  Kern-Kaweah Chapter. "The impact on Kern County is going to be huge, and it's important to note that the EPA's language here is a 'just transition.' Whether you agree or not that we need to adjust away from oil, it's going to happen. We need to do something.

"Now, as far as exactly what sort of changes we ned to make and what new industries need to come in, I don't know that," Nipp said. "Hopefully they'll be willing to entertain some ideas. And hopefully the state will be willing to invest in education, which will be central to all of this."

Chad Hathaway, owner and founder of Bakersfield-based Hathaway LLC, an independent oil producer, questions the thought process of those who would shut down oil production in California.

"It's great to reduce pollution," he said. "We should all be doing it. But all industry has waste. And still people come after us. ...

"I don't think the governor really has an understanding of energy," he said. "The places we'd have to import oil from (if Kern oil were to shutter) aren't even members of the Paris Accord (on climate change). About 25 percent of the people elected in this state consider this (quest for zero emissions) a religion, not a science."

The interagency team developing a framework for the studies, led by CalEPA, includes the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, the Labor and Workforce Development Agency, the California Natural Resources Agency, the State Transportation Agency, the California Energy Commission and the California Air Resources Board.

CalEPA kicked off the public portion of the effort with a workshop in Sacramento on Sept. 24.

Wednesday's workshop at the Levan Center will be held 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Parking is available in Lot P2, best from Haley Street.

Thursday's workshop will be held from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Banning’s Landing Community Center, 100 E Water St., in Wilmington.

CalEPA is also soliciting comments and inquiries about the studies via email (climatechange@calepa.ca.gov) through Nov. 22. The agency will post public comments on its website. 

The studies are funded with proceeds from California’s Cap and Trade program and are part of California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative that uses Cap-and-Trade funding to work toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions  and improving public health, particularly in disadvantaged communities.

The studies are authorized by the Budget Act of 2019, which includes this language:

Vehicle Emissions Study

Of the funds appropriated in this item, $1,500,000 shall be available for a study to identify strategies to significantly reduce emissions from vehicles and to achieve carbon neutrality in the sector, including the transition to zero-emission light-duty vehicles, in particular, passenger vehicles, the transition to zero-emission heavy vehicles, and the adoption of other technology to significantly reduce emissions from heavy vehicles; the role of alternative fuels; and the impact of land use policy. The study shall include, but not be limited to, strategies for reducing vehicle miles traveled, including increasing transit ridership. The Secretary for Environmental Protection shall consult with the State Air Resources Board, Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission, the Transportation Agency, the Office of Planning and Research, and the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development on the study.

Demand and Supply of Fossil Fuels Study

Of the funds appropriated in this item, $1,500,000 shall be available for a study to identify strategies to decrease demand and supply of fossil fuels, while managing the decline of fossil fuel use in a way that is economically responsible and sustainable. The Secretary for Environmental Protection shall contract with the University of California system to produce this study. An interagency state team led by the California Environmental Protection Agency shall further develop the scope of the study in order to 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. The Secretary for Environmental Protection shall consult with the Natural Resources Agency, the Transportation Agency, the Labor and Workforce Development Agency, and the Office of Planning and Research on the study.

(23) comments


Just one more step on the Democrats long road to destroy jobs and economic opportunity wherever it exists.


Why is Kern County still a part of California? Ca does not want large scale farming (plant and animal), oil production, commercial transportation, military. So, why? same question for Kings, Tulare, Inyo, Antelope and Victor Valleys: why still part of Ca? Metro drives the vote. Metro drives the policy. Metro drives the lunacy. oil and ag are the fuels for life! no oil, no ag: no life. military to protect...seems pretty simple. there would be no cities or concentrated populations if it were not for oil and ag. are we so lost contemplating our own belly buttons that we fail to recognize what sustains us? folks...without food and mass transportation...we would cease to exist. Say: "thank you" to people like Chad Hathaway who do what they do. Their lives would be easier if they just walked away. But, folks would be left to starve and the economy would collapse. Drive your electric car. And, enjoy your Sashimi and Kale (Diesel powered motors made them all possible).


What about all the folks who own mineral rights in this county? Does the state have the right to forcibly subrogate those rights to its own desires? Do they plan on compensating mineral rights owners for their loss?


Ever notice the real cause of environmental pollution is never discussed? Over population of the planet is driving pollution and with the current rate of population growth nothing will end the problem not even leaving dependence on oil. The current population of the planet is 7.743 billion people with a birth rate of 3 people per second. As I was a teen in Kern County in 1964 and the world population at that time was 3.3 billion well you can see why we are where we are. As a teen I could see across the valley almost every day. People should consider famiiy size and their children's future when starting their family instead of laying blame of pollution on all the companies who have provided us with our life style. My wife and I had only one child and at this point he has decided to have no children, so live by the right personal decisions.

Thomas Murphy

The unfortunate truth is that we will never stop consuming crude oil and natural gas in any living person's lifetime if we wish to maintain our standard of living or wish to even keep living for that matter. Besides serving as the dominant energy source for transportation, crude oil is ultimately used in over 6,000 products we all depend on. Some of the most noteworthy products include fertilizers, pesticides, and pharmaceuticals that ensure a means to consistently feed and treat simple to complex diseases for our planet's 8 billion human inhabitants. Remove crude oil from the equation and a mass human extinction is guaranteed. Crude oil is also required even with a massive push toward electric vehicles and "green energy". Some other important products are clothing & shoes, paints, roadways (asphalt),etc. Unless you are willing to give these "non-essentials" up, we will still need crude oil. The solar panels, plastics in electric vehicles, and light-weight and strong carbon fiber used in wind turbines and all aircraft of the future (the super-efficient 787 Dream-liner is made of 70% carbon fiber - including the engines!) are also all derived from crude oil.

Natural gas will still be used in order to ensure a reliable electric grid. No matter how much we expand wind and solar electricity, zero electricity is generated when the sun sets and the wind stops blowing. Natural gas fired power plants (and the few remaining coal and nuclear plants) help to ensure we have a reliable electric grid. CA legislators, constantly congratulating themselves, seem hopelessly unaware that our electricity is imported from neighboring states using natural gas-fired plants. Recent pushes like Berkley's ban on using natural gas in new homes and businesses actually will serve to increase the usage of natural gas where the electricity is generated because of energy losses in transmission to CA. There is a solution to get off natural gas: nuclear power! Since we can't risk that energy source we are stuck with natural gas.

The $1.5 million to evaluate possible ways to decrease the supply and demand of crude oil is a complete waste of money. In fact, my 5 year old could actually have provided the same result of this study for free! As previously stated, we are never going to stop using crude oil. Rather, the only thing that the legislators can attempt to do is to end domestic CA production. Californians currently import about 70% of the crude oil used here everyday from outside of the state. The majority of the crude is imported from OPEC nations across the Pacific Ocean. This study will only arrive the obvious: create even more regulations for oil and gas to become completely uneconomical and or attempt to change laws in dubious ways without paying for the taking of private property (mineral rights). Money well spent!

This study however doesn't seem to address the most prevalent valley air pollutants: dust and ash. The air here in CA is atrocious and has recently been the worst I have ever seen. The answer is to reduce at least some of agriculture's exemptions on burning slash/trash and complete lack of dust control. The State loves to target the oil industry for air emissions but won't touch agriculture. Even if we banned CA oil production, the dust and ash problems would persist.


The state wants to get rid of Oil in 26 years and they have no idea what to replace it with. Fantastic. Sounds like a bunch of idiots in Sacramento need to be voted out and replaced with common sense individuals that understand Oil is a way of life, always has been and always will be. There is so much oil west of Bakersfield, that as much oil as we have pumped out of the ground - there is at least that much left in the ground if not more to be pumped out. We have been drilling out there for 80+ years. Last time I checked, Hemp doesn't run cars. If you like $4/gallon now.....double that in less than 30 years if they want to "ban" oil. Get rid of Sacramento politicians, recall Gruesome Newsom and get California back on track.

Imagine going to a meeting with Executives and say, "we need to get rid of A,B, and C but we don't have a plan to replace it". And "A,B, and C" gets the job done. Makes no sense.

Jerry Todd

The only way to put a stop to this nonsense is to run this brood of vipers out of Sacramento and do it quick. This is only one part of what these totalitarian atheists are up to to destroy the middle clas (per AG Becerra) and the state's economy to produce a 2-class society. Kind of like a female in an abusive relationship feeling like it's her fault.

Chad Hathaway

How do we build renewable energy machines without oil?

I hope they address in this study the thousands upon thousands of other products derived from oil.

Maybe the Sierra Club can tell us how we’ll do that??

The Jackal

I have an answer for you Chad. Hemp can do everything oil can but even better and more environmentally friendly. All the things that petrochemicals are used for can be replaced with hemp. Take hemp plastic for example.

We can do about 50,000 things with hemp, much more than with petroleum products. Existing infrastructure can be modified to refine hemp oil into fuel. That's just one solution there's many.

And by the way the United States is not a member of the Paris agreement either. It's clear you're just trying to protect your business but there's no basis to your arguments.

Chad Hathaway

Never said we “signed” the Paris agreement.

Of course I’m trying to protect my business wouldn’t you? I also believe what I do is important and has made us all better.

Your smoking too much hemp infused with THC...obviously you don’t know what it would take to use hemp for all the fantasy land stuff you mentioned. You also don’t understand it takes oil to grow hemp, don’t understand how scarce our water supply is and don’t understand we still need land for food..or maybe we’ll just eat hemp??

Now go throw away whatever oil derived product your using right now to type with and get a hemp manufactured one.

Jerry Todd

Way back when, Henry Ford built a car out of hemp. I'd show it if the site allowed photos. That said, Where will you grow it if the fields are covered with solar panels? The us vs. them attitude is typical humans pushing their own interests. The oil companies are investing in solar. It's not wise to drop everything and run to the latest environmentalists' wet dream.

BTW, I've sold our Magnation water and energy saving equipment to cannabis growers to give them a better crop with up to 20% less water. Does that count too?

Chad Hathaway

Jackal I’m also trying to protect you. A world without oil and some rational replacement for it is dangerous.


The will always be a need for some petroleum. If the state shuts down imports. There wont be any need to close down any Petro production.

What we need is cleaner ways to refine the petrol.

Just lubrication, plastics and areas too remote to use electric vehicles will require a lot of petrol.

More research needs to be done on designing a clean way to produce hydrogen from petrol. That would work to provide energy to remote areas that are fire danger areas.

Stop looking for ways to harm our economy and work for ways to improve our environment and economy at the same time.

There are uses for petrol that can be made safe to both the environment and the economy. We just need research.

We don't need two sides arguing over a solution. We need two sides that recognize that there is a problem and both work toward a solution. There is a solution that will please both sides once common Sense takes over.

The Jackal

Stanley Meyer found a way to run cars off of water. Splitting the hydrogen through electrolysis and using it to power engines. But he was murdered unfortunately but his patents are public record now.


You want a vision of Kern County’s future without oil?

Visit Detroit.

Chad Hathaway

Detroit has oil. Visit rural Africa.


My point was that Detroit has been hollowed out by their main industry collapsing. The same would happen to Bakersfield almost overnight if California foolishly continues to cut off their own nose to spit their face.

Inconvenient Truth

The only way mankind has an “oil-free” future, is if it has no future at all.


Inconvenient truth:. Say what? It's the reverse.

It is absolutely mind-boggling how the very region of California that is most affected by fossil fuel chemicals still insist on continuing.

Truly reminds me of a female in an abusive relationship she refuses to get out of. So tired if it. I resent the economic and health damage done by your filthy habit. Disgusting.

Chad Hathaway

Lily please show us the way. How do we stop our filthy habit? Give us the path to redemption.

The Jackal

False. Clean power is real. Electric vehicles and clean energy sources are already in existence.

Jerry Todd

That's great. Just how are we to charge millions of electric vehicles with wind and solar? The only answer is nuclear. with natural gas and cleaned coal to fill the gap. That's the same power source our Navy uses in submarines and aircraft carriers with crews sleeping next to the reactors.

Environmentalists don't want hydropower or nuclear. Go figure. e.g., since 1970, Californians have passed $34.6 Billion in water bonds, especially $7.4 Bil in 2014 to include badly needed surface water storage. Nothing but lawsuits for Valley's Temperance and Sites reservoirs or Shasta upgrade so far. Money going to HSR, CalPers and illegals. Don't ever vote for a Democrat again until the party returns to its roots.

Chad Hathaway

That’s not much of a solution Jackal. At least I’m transparent and post with my real name. You challenge me for defending my way of life. Let’s hear yours...

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