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Kern supervisors ask Newsom to approve more oil permits


An oil pump station works in a field off Merced Road in this 2020 file photo.

The Kern County Board of Supervisors joined a growing chorus of local Republicans in calling Tuesday for Gov. Gavin Newsom to loosen restrictions on local oilfield permitting amid the ban on Russian imports.

The board voted unanimously to ask the governor to suspend limitations that would allow local oil producers to help ease supply disruptions caused by geopolitical tensions in Europe.

Oil producers generate local jobs and tax revenues. While their contributions have little impact on prices local consumers pay at the pump, the alternative to in-state production is sending U.S. dollars to overseas producers that operate with lower environmental standards.

"It's important and we are going to keep bringing this issue to the forefront when we see that circumstances speak that we do so," said Zack Scrivner, chairman of the board, at the board's afternoon meeting.

The county has a pending lawsuit that accuses Newsom of acting beyond his jurisdiction in withholding certain kinds of oil permits from local producers.

State oil regulators say they have been unable lately to keep up with drilling applications largely because they were unprepared to take over Kern's permitting responsibilities after a court judgement last fall went against the county's review system. A hearing on the case is set for next month.

Since barrel prices shot up last fall, locally elected politicians as powerful as Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, have called on Newsom to approve more permits.

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