Jan 14, 2020

Dozens of Kern County workers and their families have received an unwelcome new year surprise: the newly announced permitting regulations and drilling moratoriums out of Sacramento have eliminated their 2020 employment plans.

One Bakersfield-based oil producer has already said the new state regulatory changes have forced it to cut one drilling rig from its 2020 blueprint – a 17% reduction that will take away 90 jobs from the region.

Other Kern County producers are shifting assets and drilling schedules to lessen the impact of the new state mandates on their operations and warn that future job impacts could occur if the state keeps holding up permits into 2020.

Local officials, meanwhile, have plans to counter the Department of Conservation’s actions against the oil production industry, which has provided 30% of the region’s economic activity and a full third of Kern County’s local tax revenue base in recent years. The Kern County Board of Supervisors has said it could declare an economic crisis if the job losses mount and local tax revenues sharply decline alongside production.

These officials argue that the new regulations are unnecessary given oil production activities in California are already scrutinized by more than 25 government agencies at every level. And economists question the effectiveness of cutting in-state production at a time when California’s demand for oil is only increasing, arguing less production in California will only result in more oil imports from foreign countries that don’t have the same stringent regulations protecting public health and the environment.