Kern County Pushes Back on State’s Oil and Gas Moratorium

Published On: January 15, 2020

Community leaders and hundreds of people from the oil and gas industry voiced their opposition, Tuesday, to Governor Newsom’s current oil and gas moratorium. The six-hour hearing was led by the Kern County Board of Supervisors. Below are some quotes from the hearing.

 Kern County Board of Supervisors

“Why would this administration pursue policies that would destroy domestic production in California, only to send our jobs and our treasure to these countries with terrible human rights records, and little to no environment controls? Why would we not produce our oil here where we do it safely and responsibly? This is the hypocrisy of the governor’s attack on Kern County, and I don’t think we’re willing to accept it… No one has done more than this industry to clean the air in the valley…Sacramento needs to ask us how to do it, not tell us how.”

– 2nd District Supervisor Zack Scrivner

“If we do not effectively change the course we seem to be upon, I don’t think we have any choice but to take more measures. One of those is [that] I will ask my board to declare Kern County an oil and gas sanctuary in the state of California.”

– 3rd District Supervisor Mike Maggard

Oil & Gas Industry Leaders

“Why would we want to import something that we have in our own backyard? And from foreign sources like Ecuador and Saudi Arabia that do not have the environmental regulations and standards that we have here in California.”

  – Jerry Tardivo Alcoser, Chevron

“This is about the 24,000 men and women in Kern County whose careers are being impacted by an uncertain regulatory environment in the state of California.”

 – Christina Sistrunk, President and CEO of Aera Energy

“In the 48 hours following the governor’s announcement, Berry [Petroleum] lost $354 million in market value, or nearly 40 percent of our stock value. The impact of this most recent effort by the governor, as well as his ongoing efforts to stifle the industry, will have a long-lasting negative impact on all of us, including Kern County.”

– Trem Smith, Berry Petroleum’s CEO and Board Chairman

 “Governor Newsom and elected officials in Sacramento need to understand that decisions they make have significant impact on the people and families in this community.”

 – Megan Silva of Berry Petroleum

“California is currently dependent on energy imports for over 70 percent of our crude oil demand, 90 percent of natural gas, and even 30 percent of our electricity – all from places that don’t apply California’s leading safety, labor, human rights, and environmental standards.”

 – Anibal Araya, COO of California Resources Corporation

“We shouldn’t be talking about getting off of Kern County oil. We should be talking about getting more reliant on Kern County oil, and less reliant on oil that comes from other places.”

 – Rock Zierman, CEO of California Independent Petroleum Association

“We will meet carbon neutrality without losing oil and gas production jobs… Is the state’s goals to address climate change, carbon neutrality or shutting down this industry?”

– Cathy Reheis-Boyd, President of Western States Petroleum Association

State Representatives

“It’s ridiculous to think that a path forward in this state without the oil and gas industry is even possible… We can either produce it safely and cleanly here under the strictest environmental quality ever, or we can continue to import it by bunker fuel, which is the highest carbon burning fuel.”

– Shannon Grove, State Senator for the 16th District

“Facing a 6.4 percent unemployment rate, Kern County’s poverty level currently sits at 22.6 percent. As the center of energy production for California, producing 80 percent of the oil and 46 percent of gas exploration and production in the state, more than 14,000 jobs in the county are directly tied to the industry. Although we share the same mission to uplift those that are often underrepresented, the initiative proposed by the State of California is a blanketed effort that further impacts the families that are dependent on these jobs for upward mobility. For this reason, I highly urge policymakers to take into consideration existing communities and their fundamental ecosystem.”

 – Melissa Hurtado, State Senator for the 14th District

“All oil produced in California is used in California but only accounts for 31 percent of the state’s demand for oil, which means that we are importing 69 percent of oil from foreign countries… Thirty years ago, oil producers provided one million barrels per day and now, today, we only produce 463,000 barrels. This simply means that we are importing more foreign oil to our state.”

–Vince Fong, Assemblyman for the 34th District

Governor’s Office

“As we move towards a stronger future for Kern, that requires a more diverse economy for Kern County as well…We recognize many of the issue that the state, the nation, and our world face. Climate change, modernization, globalization, all those things are having a disproportionate impact on Kern County.”

 – Anthony Williams, Governor’s Legislative Affairs Secretary


“[Oil] is the lifeblood of our families. This is how we feed them. This is how we clothe them. This is how we pay the bills.”

– Daniel Cazarez, Pros Incorporated employee

“When the governor is talking about reducing emissions, he’s really not thinking globally at all. It’s really a bad policy for the environment, and I just think that needs to be brought forward.”

–John Carrithers, retired environmental engineering manager

“They are going to drive so many people out of California, it’s not even going to be funny. It’s going to ruin this state. We need to send them the message that, ‘Hey, we’re here. And we’re not going anywhere.’”

– Rowdy Dickard, General Manager of Accelerated Environmental Services

About the Author: Matt Ross

Matt Ross is a Senior Consultant in the energy industry and has more than a dozen years of experience in state government. He can be reached at matt at