As anticipated years ago, a coalition of environmental and community groups this week appealed a court decision upholding Kern's 2015 move to streamline oil and gas permitting in the county.

The group asserts April's Kern County Superior Court ruling wrongly allowed the county zoning ordinance to stand despite finding problems in the underlying environmental review.

The appeal was filed Monday in Fresno's Fifth District Court of Appeal by The Center for Biological Diversity, the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment, Earthjustice and the Sierra Club.

"We will continue to fight back against this attempt by the Kern County Board of Supervisors to put Big Oil's interests above the health and safety of our communities," Gordon Nipp, vice chairman of the Sierra Club's local Kern-Kaweah Chapter, said in a news release.

The industry agreed to fund the ordinance's legal defense because it had become clear even before the board's unanimous approval that the permitting process would be attacked by environmental groups.

The coalition's appeal isn't the only legal action pending against the ordinance. A local oil producer opposed to the ordinance for different reasons — he says farmers who don't own mineral rights under their property were given too much sway in permitting decisions — wants the local court to revisit its decision.

Kern County gets a lot of credit.

In fact, only two other major cities across the country — McAllen, Texas and Charleston, South Carolina — make greater use of store credit and charge cards, according to a new study by online credit card comparison website CompareCards.

Research the website released recently concludes a little more than two-thirds (68 percent) of Kern County residents have retail cards, and more than one-third (37 percent) carry a balance on them. It determined their average balance was $3,053.

Fourth-ranked Riverside County, the only other place in California to make the website's top 10, was found to have a smaller share of the population with cards (66 percent) and a smaller proportion with a balance (36.5 percent) but a larger average balance: $3,115.

Free food will be handed out June 16 at the Kern County Fairgrounds.

Community Action Partnership of Kern is partnering with The Wonderful Company to host a no-cost farmers' market from 8 to 10 a.m. at the fairgrounds' Gate 30, at P Street and Belle Terrace.

No identification is required of food recipients. Anyone interested in volunteering to help with the event is asked to call CAPK's food bank, 398-4520.

Bakersfield Heart Hospital has another accreditation under its belt.

The 47-bed specialty acute care hospital on Sillect Avenue recently received word it has been designated a heart failure center by the American College of Cardiology.

No other medical center in the state has earned the accreditation, which is based on a rigorous review of the hospital's ability to evaluate, diagnose and treat heart failure patients.

Bakersfield Heart is also accredited as a chest pain center.

Grimmway Farms is helping put another 55 local high school graduates through college.

The Bakersfield-based produce giant's Rod and Bob Grimm Memorial Scholarship Program has now awarded more than 600 grants, and a total of more than $1.65 million, to grads whose parent or guardian works at the company.

The scholarship program was started in 1997. Its scholarships are based on academic achievement and renewable for four years.


John Cox can be reached at 661-395-7404. Follow him on Twitter: @TheThirdGraf.

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