Kern County sues Governor Newsom in an effort to address restrictions placed on Kern’s oil industry

September 14, 2021 /

The County of Kern announced Monday it is suing Governor Gavin Newsom in an effort to address restrictions placed on Kern’s oil industry.

The County says the Governor has violated the California Constitution and disregarded many State laws.

“Faced with an unprecedented attack on its residents and in a fight for economic survival, as well as in response to an unprecedented attack on the environment and the rest of our State’s economy, today the County of Kern sued Governor Gavin Newsom,” the County said in a news release.

Since taking office, Newsom requested that the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to analyze pathways to phase out oil extraction across the state by no later than 2045. In April, Newsom also directed the Department of Conservation’s Geologic Energy Management (CalGEM) Division to initiate regulatory action to end the issuance of new permits for hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) by January 2024.

“The climate crisis is real, and we continue to see the signs every day,” said Governor Newsom in April. “As we move to swiftly decarbonize our transportation sector and create a healthier future for our children, I’ve made it clear I don’t see a role for fracking in that future and, similarly, believe that California needs to move beyond oil.”

In 2019, California consumed more than 661,825,000 barrels of oil — the second highest level of consumption in the United States, according to the County. Nearly two-thirds of what California doesn’t import comes from Kern County’s 76 active oilfields, according to Kern County, making Kern the seventh highest oil producing region in the United States.

“Unlike oil shipped from places like Iraq and Saudi Arabia, oil produced in Kern County is subject to the highest possible environmental and worker protection safeguards,” the County said in a news release.

Annually, Kern County oil producers pay more than $1.3 billion in wages to thousands of workers who, on average, earn double the County’s average wage, pay more than $197 million in taxes and contribute approximately $9.1 billion to the County’s total economic output.

The County says if Kern is not able to use its oilfields, the United States is likely to import oil from foreign countries.

The County argues increased imports would have significant adverse air quality, safety and environmental justice impacts. The County also says air quality would suffer due to additional imports.

“In short, ‘heedless of the law and unfaithful to the California Constitution he swore to uphold,’ contrary to the needs of thousands of workers, families, schools and other governmental services dependent on Kern County’s oil and gas industry, and contrary to the forecasted harm to our State’s air quality, increased pollution, increased sea, rail and ground traffic, harm to consumers and disproportionate harm on minority and low-income populations, Governor Newsom has declared himself above the law,” the County said in a news release. “The County’s lawsuit asks the Court to stop this power grab and return control to California’s elected Legislature.”