Based on overwhelming scientific evidence, California is moving toward an inevitable transition away from the use of fossil fuels, a transition that will have profound impacts on “oil central” Bakersfield and Kern County. Because of the climate crisis, if we care at all about leaving a livable planet for the next generations, we should understand the need for this transition and be supportive of it. It is, however, pretty irrelevant whether folks agree with transitioning away from fossil fuels. Realistically it is bound to happen.
John Cox writes in The Californian, “The state Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources on Tuesday announced a moratorium on new permits for high-pressure steam injections in California oil fields, as well as additional layers of scrutiny for the permitting of ‘frack’ jobs in the state and the likelihood of new regulations to safeguard people living near oil and gas activities” (“Economists rip California's plan to cut in-state oil production,” Nov. 24). The transition is beginning to happen.
Kern County, of course, produces about 80 percent of the oil produced in California, so the impact of this transition away from fossil fuel is going to be focused right here. To forestall potential economic catastrophe, the city and county should be making plans now to address the impacts of this transition while there is still time to think it through and take effective action.
The Californian’s Robert Price notes, “Taking regulatory steps to curtail supply is fine, as the economists quoted by Cox say, as long as the demand side of the quotient — starting with an escalation of construction of an electric-vehicle infrastructure — has been addressed” (“SOUND OFF: Our coverage of oil industry draws flak from all sides, and that’s a point of pride,” Dec. 1). A start toward a just transition.
There are three new gas station projects on this Thursday’s Bakersfield Planning Commission agenda, and Kern County is in the process of approving several more new gas stations. First, why do we need more gas stations? They are pervasive already. Second, as we transition away from using fossil fuel vehicles, these gas stations will be obsolete and result in more urban decay to our community.
Each of these projects should be required to include electric vehicle (EV) fast-charging stations as well as solar panels to generate the clean electricity necessary for the project.
Beginning Dec. 11, the California Energy Commission is offering grants through Kern COG to fund construction of EV charging stations. These grants could potentially totally defray the cost of constructing EV fast-charging stations at these projects.
If there is any hope of addressing the climate crisis and our dreadful area air pollution, we must reduce transportation emissions, and EVs charged from the sun have no such emissions. In addition, as fossil fuel vehicles are phased out, they almost certainly will be replaced by EVs (which even now are superior in many ways: no air pollution, great acceleration and handling, no oil changes, much less noise). Service stations which can serve EVs will have a leg up on the future.
As EVs become more popular, a project’s charging stations could serve as an attractor — EV drivers using the project’s restaurant or market as their vehicle charges for half an hour. The owners of the charging stations make money, the restaurant and market owners have new business, the air is cleaner, the planet breathes easier and with a grant to fund it, it wouldn’t cost the developer. Everybody wins.
Many new commercial projects should include tiers of EV fast-charging stations. For the future of our community, the city and county should get on board.
Gordon Nipp lives in Bakersfield, is a retired mathematics professor and is vice-chair of the local Sierra Club chapter.