How does Governor Gavin Newsom’s new climate initiative impact Kern County?

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – The governor’s announcement Wednesday raises a lot of questions over climate change and its significance to Californians. He says his major climate initiative will drastically reduce demand for fossil fuels. But how does that impact Kern County?

“We’ll do that by setting forth a firm goal that by 2035, in the next 15 years, we will eliminate in California the sale of internal combustion engines,” Newsom said.

The governor says this initiative can benefit California’s economy and bring in more green companies. “This is the next big global industry and California needs to dominate it,” Newsom said.

He says in California right now – green companies have created five times as many jobs as the fossil fuel industry. But those numbers change in kern. The county alone is responsible for 70 percent of California’s oil production.

“Many people in this community are indirectly in the oil and gas business,” said Chad Hathaway. “This has gotta be fatiguing for them, they’ve gotta be tired of getting attacked.”

Chad Hathaway is the Founder and CEO of Hathaway LLC — an oil and natural gas company in Kern County. He and his family have been in the kern county oil industry for many generations. He says this new initiative is too ambitious and needs a stronger plan to lessen dependency on fossil fuels. It will also impact state funds received by the gas tax.

“Our infrastructure right now is supported all the new highway construction you see right now is funded by the gas tax, the diesel tax,” Hathaway said. “Wheres that money guna come from? I know they’re really good at taxing us here, maybe they’ll just layer that somewhere else. We already have the most expensive electricity in the country. Where are they going to get the money to fix the roads?”

The initiative would also lower revenue from kern county’s property tax. The county’s Chief Administrative Officer, Ryan Alsop, tweeted today that the general fund would drop by about 23%.

But as the earth continues to get hotter, the effects of climate change will soon be irreversible. Dr. Anthony Rathburn is the Chair of Geological Sciences at CSUB. He applauds Governor Newsom’s efforts to mitigate climate change and says we need to start moving in that direction.

“I think it’s a very worthy goal, it’s something that we all need to move towards, anything that we can do to mitigate the impacts of climate change and also mitigate climate change itself,” Rathburn said.

State regulations have already caused the Kern oil industry to import most of its oil. So if we cant lessen the demand for fossil fuels, Californians will continue to get it from other places.

“I mean theres a lot of petroleum oriented industries that aren’t associated with gasoline cars although that’s the one that comes to mind immediately. Petroleum industry here in California if they’re not supplying petroleum to California they’ll be supplying it either to the rest of the country or overseas. So what we’re doing is moving the problem to someplace else that’s generating the environmental problems and contributing to the global climate problem.”

Newsom will host a California Climate Action day Thursday to highlight state leadership.

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