A recent column from anti-oil activist Rosanna Esparza criticized longstanding petroleum production in Kern County with typical fear-mongering designed to stop domestic energy production (“Oil runs amok in Kern County,” Viewpoints, Dec. 25).
However, the article failed to resonate with those of us who actually live in Kern County, where 80 percent of our state’s oil and natural gas is produced.
Far from being the bane of our existence, the 100-plus years of responsible production is a source of pride for most residents. Latinos in particular have realized extraordinary opportunities in jobs, well-funded schools and a promising future for our children.
Contrary to the author’s assertion, the recent decision by the county Board of Supervisors to implement a new oil and gas permitting structure came after nearly three years of environmental review and requires 88 mitigation measures to ensure responsible oil and gas production in Kern County.
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This permitting structure was so comprehensive that it attracted the support of a wide array of organizations and individuals from the agriculture industry, small business, labor unions and local nonprofits. The county planning department left no stone unturned when addressing the community’s concerns.
It is also important to note that our county leads the state in renewable energy production, including solar, wind, geothermal and biomass. We are proud to make such a significant contribution to California’s energy needs, yet our state still imports two-thirds of our total demand for electricity, oil and natural gas. How does it make sense to shut down in-state production, handing those jobs and economic benefits off to other states and countries while making us more dependent on foreign oil?
The truth is that California’s oil and natural gas industry provides nearly 500,000 jobs and $38 billion in income each year. About 27 percent of these jobs are held by Latinos, providing economic security for thousands of families. It is insulting to Kern County residents for others to assume that we do not value clean air and water – or that we are incapable of achieving those necessities without the help of outside activist groups.
Armando Gonzalez is a member of Kern Citizens for Energy who has worked in the oil and natural gas industry for 26 years and wrote this at the behest of the Western States Petroleum Association. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.