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California Forward Economic Summit speech

From our Supervisor

Good morning everyone, and thank you for coming to Kern County to discuss the future of California's economy. This is the right place in the State to have this conversation. Sacramento's ambitious climate goals, and all it hopes to achieve, cannot be accomplished without us.

Here in Kern County, we are working to stabilize our water supply while still producing the food needed to feed our state and the world. Here in Kern County, we site renewable energy and energy storage for California while also fueling the transportation sector, which drives the state's economy. Over the past 15 years, we've permitted and built more renewable energy than any other county in California, providing 60% of the renewable energy that powers our state's cities and communities. And we're working to do our part again, as an emerging leader in the new clean carbon management industries and Carbon Capture and Sequestration.

But this ignores the fiscal consequences that state policies have had on our residents, nearly one million strong. Despite Kern County's long-standing contributions and commitments to California, harmful state policies and lack of support by the current administration are causing devastation to our county, our economy, and our residents.

The impacts of state policies on Kern County are substantial and continue to get worse. State policies are restricting water supply and curtailing energy production, costing Kern County jobs, businesses, family incomes and revenue for critical county programs and essential services.

Kern County programs that serve residents have been particularly damaged. Our local oil and gas industries contribute nearly $200 million in annual revenue that funds vital county programs and services. And contrary to media reports, the exploration and extraction of oil and natural gas here in Kern County has the most environmentally protective setbacks and mitigation anywhere in California. Our air quality mitigation alone on oil permitting has contributed over $127 million for clean air grants to the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. No other city, county or state agency requires oil and gas permitting to mitigate to the equivalent of zero – no net increase to criteria pollutants – as Kern County does.

However, even with our efforts to provide the highest standard of environmental protections for conventional and renewable energy projects, Kern County is expected to lose more than 20% of its discretionary budget because of flawed and misguided state policies. This disastrous loss of revenue over the coming years will result in massive budget cuts to essential county programs and services.

And yet, while green electrons produced in Kern power San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego, and contribute to their quality of life, our public services flounder. For instance, state policies, such as the Solar Tax Exclusion, continue to deprive us of $20 million in property taxes each year. And this is only one of many examples where state climate policies ignore the fiscal impacts on Central Valley counties like Kern.

So, the question we want to bring to this economic summit discussion is this: How do we achieve fiscal equity as well as environmental justice through state policy?

Improving the quality of life in California's largest cities at the expense of our rural communities is not justice served. Green energy will not replace the tax revenue or the high-quality jobs that we will lose in Kern because of the state's anti-oil climate policies. Nor can Green Energy, by itself, supply enough to meet overall demand.

That's the reality we face in Kern. So instead of demonizing an industry that literally drove California to prosperity and helped us become the world's fifth largest economy, the state should work together with the oil industry to capitalize on its technological expertise, innovation, and efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We should scale new advanced energy technologies, like carbon capture, direct air capture and hydrogen. And, instead of importing oil from countries with abysmal environmental and human rights records, the state should partner with our local oil industry to supply California's immense demand for oil and gas.

Partnerships between government and industry create a stable economy and give investors the confidence that businesses can succeed and thrive in California.

Californians deserve an inclusive energy strategy, not sound bites or one-sided state policies that devastate our local economy, and hurt working-class families, our seniors, and our youth.

Supervisor Scrivner represents Kern County's Second District, which includes the oil-producing communities of Taft and Maricopa.