|Kern County: not as pretty as San Francisco (SF Gate photo)|
Kern County alone pumps more oil than Oklahoma, accounting for more than 70 percent of California’s production and more than 90 percent of its fracked wells. While the miles of photogenic melon fields, almond orchards and vineyards get the magazine covers, for more than a century the county’s financial strength has been its place as California’s oil patch.Here's the fun part: Governor Jerry Brown, well known for his strong views on climate change, refuses to move against the California fracking industry. His resistance has aroused the ire of putative environmental allies:
Since the 1890s, the county has been the epicenter of the state’s energy industry, with 44,284 active wells pumping some 144 million barrels of oil in 2015, according to the state Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources.
“In Kern County, oil and gas is a $4 billion industry with lots of well-paying jobs,” said Nick Ortiz, president and CEO of the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce. “It’s a huge part of our economy, and the taxes we collect are very important to Kern County and our residents.”
“It’s hypocritical for Brown to call himself a climate leader,” said Catherine Garoupa White of Californians Against Fracking, a coalition of environmental groups. The governor’s support for fracking “is a huge smear on Brown’s green record.”Governor Brown talks a good game, but he's too much of an experienced politician to embrace all the tenets of the green revolution.
The state needs to move to an economy with 100 percent clean energy and get out of oil,” said Dan Jacobson, legislative director for Environment California. “The governor needs to play a leadership role in getting us off oil.”
since California residents now drive about 330 billion miles a year, most of it in vehicles powered by gasoline or diesel, there’s a long way to go.Keep talking like that, guv'nor, and people might think you are a climate-change (whisper) denier.
“California is only producing 30 percent of its oil,” Brown said. “The rest comes in ships, mostly, but increasingly in trains.”
Cutting the state’s oil production without cutting demand just means that more of California’s oil will come from other states or other countries, which may not have the strong restrictions on fracking and oil production that California now has.
“I don’t believe that makes sense,” Brown said.