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Reduced Energy Production Will Put Community Services at Risk

Jul 16, 2014
In The News

A recent opinion piece in this paper discussed misleading public health concerns if the state moves forward with safe oil extraction methods ("When it comes to public health, we can't ignore our environment," July 7). However, public health programs used by Californians in need would be in jeopardy if the state restricted domestic oil production.


While Kern County's oil and gas production is important to California, it is the lifeblood of Kern County's economy. Oil and gas extraction directly employs more than 25,000 people in Kern County, and related equipment and services generate thousands more jobs, the multiplier effect as those wages are circulated through our economy brings even greater benefits.


In fact, a recent study found that, statewide, the oil and gas industry paid more than $21.6 billion in state and local taxes in 2012 alone. Those companies and their employees pay taxes that help support our local schools and government services.


Restricting domestic oil production -- which is highly-regulated in our state -- would mean less tax revenue for state and local governments.


This would result in fewer teachers, firefighters, police officers, health inspectors, probation officers, librarians and many other public employees who deliver the services that people need and deserve. These effects would be devastating in areas like Kern County, who rely greatly upon this tax base and also have high demands for services.


The vast majority of hydraulic fracturing in California occurs in Kern County. California's strong protections of this technique, which has been used for more than half of a century, ensure that Californians know when it is happening, where it is happening and what types of chemicals are being used in the process.


Opponents have masterfully used fear to scare the public about this technique. However, under state law, companies must disclose the chemicals used -- many of which are similar to what you'll find in your own home. Guar gum is used in ice cream. Isoproponol sounds scary but it's in anti-perspirant. Borate salts are used in make-up. And you might know sodium chloride by it's other name: table salt.


These scare tactics are simply a component of the end goal to stop all oil production. Considering 96 percent of the state's transportation needs are met with petroleum, that's unrealistic.


Limiting oil that we produce safely and affordably in California will force the state to meet fuel demands with oil imports. Not only will that cost valuable, high-paying jobs in Kern County, but it will also encourage imported oil from states and nations without the environmental safeguards that we have in California.


Gov. Jerry Brown said it best when he told The Sacramento Bee, "We have the most intelligent regulation on the drilling of oil in the country. We're spending millions of dollars on a scientific study that relates to the effect on water and a full bore environmental impact report. ... We do import two-thirds of our oil, and our cars do drive 332.2 billion miles a year. I haven't heard anyone call for a moratorium on that. ... You can't get to 333 billion miles without a lot of oil. What doesn't come from here will come from a boat or a train. It is coming."


The demand for fossil fuels will not cease simply because a moratorium is in place. If we can produce oil in California safely and affordably, we should do so.


The critical services that California families rely upon to stay healthy, safe and educated depend on it.


Orchel Krier is mayor pro tem of the city of Taft. Another View presents a critical response to a previous editorial, column or news story.