As tensions peak overseas, Kern County has a critical role to play in domestic-oil needs
Editor’s Note: This opinion piece by 1st District Kern County Supervisor Phillip Peters, originally ran in the Bakersfield Californian on March 6. This piece is being published in its entirety with the permission of the author.
As we watch the devastating situation overseas unfold and hit a fever pitch of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, the United States faces many challenges and uncertainties, both personal and economic, in this newly waged war.
One of most significant economic challenges is the impact of the war on world energy supplies. At more than $100 a barrel, oil prices have surged to their highest point since 2014. As fear settles in around the realities and global economic impacts of war, reality also settles in around global oil supply.
Russia serves as the third-largest oil producer and the second-largest exporter of crude oil, making up about 12 percent of the world’s supply. There will be a major disruption in the global energy supply adding to the global energy challenges that have been caused by the pandemic.
California has a critical role to play in supporting the nation during this uncertain time. Given the Russian aggression, California should revisit its current policy of denying permits for oil and gas production and restart our energy industry to assist the nation and international allies in this immediate time of need. There is plenty of time to debate California’s future energy portfolio; however, now is the time to make all our national resources available to address this imminent energy crisis.
It’s no secret U.S. dependence on foreign oil positions us as a nation, and as individual consumers, in a state of precarious reliance. As a supervisor of Kern County, one of the highest oil-producing counties in the nation and the energy capital of California, Kern serves as an essential energy conduit to families and businesses in the Golden State and across the country. We produce oil responsibly, under the strictest regulations across the globe, yet California state policies have actively chosen to eliminate oil production here at home, making us even more reliant on oil from unstable nations such as Russia.
Kern County has played a critical role in domestic oil needs, and we can continue to do so. However, state policies have put energy restrictions in place that not only hamstring oil production, but impact jobs, businesses and the livelihoods of nearly 1 million Kern County residents. Kern County’s oil and gas production industry provides more than 25,000 local jobs, $200 million annually in local property tax revenue to fund critical services and programs, and accounts for $1.3 billion in wages to Kern families each year.
President Biden told the nation that he will take actions to help U.S. citizens adapt to supply shortages and rising energy prices that will undoubtedly occur as a result of the Russian attack. It is imperative that Governor Newsom and our state officials rise to the occasion, and allow us to help provide the nation with a consistent, affordable and reliable source of energy right now.
We must deal with the present challenges that face our nation by utilizing Kern’s resources as part of the solution. Our county has a pivotal role to play in meeting our domestic energy needs, and we are ready to join the fight and do our share.