On Sept. 23, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order calling for a ban on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in oil production by 2024, and a ban on sales of new gasoline engine passenger vehicles by 2035.
In doing so, Newsom demonstrated that Kern County and our hard-working 900,000 people don’t matter to him. Kern County produces 80 percent of the state’s oil and conducts 98 percent of the hydraulic fracturing in the state, but we also site and build more renewal energy and alternative fuel than any other county.
Our county provides one-third of the renewable energy from solar and wind this state demands, and yet the fiscal benefits of solar to our county services and revenue through property taxes are completely denied to us by state law. Now, with this hastily drafted executive order to ban gas fueled cars by 2035, he continues to ignore our residents.
Kern County commissioned an economic study on this subject in 2018 to address the Clean Cars 2040 Act in the legislature. That study showed a loss to Kern County of $91 million a year from the economic footprint of auto and gasoline related industries in Kern County. This would be on top of the loss of the $198 million, of which $103 million goes to education, that the termination of oil and gas operations will cause.
The agencies working on this executive directive need to hear from cities and counties in the San Joaquin Valley being pushed off the fiscal cliff Governor Newsom just created in 2035. On the Kern County Planning and Natural Resources website is a calculator that each city and county can use to see how much revenue they will lose from this ban in 2035: https://kernplanning.com/proposed-ab-1745-clean-cars-2040-act-economic-impact-calculator/. How can we restore our COVID-19 collapsed economy when the governor just keeps taking away our jobs and revenue?
Kern County is already in a fiscal emergency due to the drop in oil prices and now the COVID-19 economic shutdown. This administration talks about investing in the San Joaquin Valley communities, but this executive order appears to be all about Southern and Northern California interests. Kern County has sacrificed economic development opportunities for revenue generating industries to support commercial solar projects on thousands of acres. We are doing our part to support the solutions for climate change policy, but we are not seeing enough of the benefits. Now we stand to lose more than $91 million a year from the ban on gas fueled cars, and $95 million a year from oil and gas revenue.
We read nothing in the executive order about our libraries, parks, elderly and child protections, fire and law enforcement, roads and other vital services that the oil industry supports. This administration needs to keep its promise of providing us new businesses that produce jobs and revenue. So far, all our business successes have occurred because of our business-friendly Board of Supervisors policies and hard-working county agencies that support our entrepreneurs and investors. What is this administration going to do to keep the lights on here for 900,000 people who pay taxes and just want to raise their families and enjoy living in Kern County?
Visioning efforts are great, but we need this administration to bring real solutions and real companies here to create economic opportunity. All we have seen from the Newsom administration so far is an attack on our most vital industry and economic destruction for Kern County.
Zack Scrivner is Kern County supervisor for the second district.