Scrivner shares economic update with chamber members
Finding ways to further diversify Kern County’s economy and stave off efforts by the state of California to shut down the oil industry are critically important, Supervisor Zack Scrivner told members of the Greater Tehachapi Chamber of Commerce on Feb. 21.
The representative of the county’s Second Supervisorial District, which includes Tehachapi, addressed a crowd of nearly 100 people and commented on the turnout being much greater than many communities he visits.
He said Sacramento’s opposition to the oil industry has resulted in a 50 percent reduction in oil and gas property tax revenue since 2014, and cost well-paying jobs.
“Instead, they want to import more oil from foreign countries with poor environmental and humanitarian standards,” he said.
He questioned what he said is the supposed motive — concern for the environment and impact on climate change — by noting that California consumes half of the oil produced in the Amazon rainforest.
“That’s exacerbating the climate crisis — if you believe there is one,” he said. He added that one out of nine gallons of fuel pumping in California comes from the Amazon, and that use of oil from Ecuador benefits China.
“Meanwhile, CalGem (California Geologic Energy Management Division) has not issued one permit in 2023,” Scrivener added, noting that the county will continue to fight in court and “look for ways to provide energy for Californians.”
An emerging industry in the county, Scrivener said, is carbon management and carbon capture and sequestration.
The new carbon management industries are essentially “warehouse space for CO2,” he noted.
Kern County is one of the few places in the state with geologic formations suitable for underground carbon storage, he said.
“Our Planning and Natural Resources Department is processing applications for CUPs and EIRs for three projects that could store over 82 million metric tons of CO2,” the supervisor said.
The projects are planned by CRC (California Resources Corp.), AERA and Chevron New Energy.
“Our planning staff is very experienced with all types of projects and EIRs (environmental impact reports),” he noted, adding that he will be looking for answers on issues of safety for communities and first responders.
“I’m interested in determining how these projects will contribute to fill the gap that restrictions on oil and gas permitting are causing,” he said, noting that an advantage is that many of the skill sets in the oil industry can be applied to carbon management.
“Our focus is not on what Sacramento wants, but instead on what works for our communities, existing industries and businesses — and on what aspects of the new, ‘green’ economy actually provide jobs and local investment,” he said.
Scrivner also addressed important elements of the county’s economy that are based in East Kern including aerospace, wind and solar and the newest project, the Mojave Inland Port.
“There is continued excitement about the Pioneer Partners Inland Port project,” the supervisor said. “This is an approved project by a private developer who is working with the Ports of LA on implementation. They have also committed to finding funding to rebuild the rail crossing into Mojave, as well as Rosamond Boulevard and Sierra Highway at the entrance to Edwards Air Force Base for separation of grade.”
He noted, also, that the county will be working over the next two years to strengthen its aerospace relationship through the B3K (Better Bakersfield, Boundless Kern) organization.
He said that includes attracting and permitting service providers for Northrop Grumman and other aerospace companies at both Plant 42 in Palmdale/Lancaster and the Mojave Air & Space Port.
“Due to security concerns, I won’t give you the exact locations of these new companies,” he said, “but both Rosamond and Mojave are benefiting from them, and their employees will be looking for housing here in Tehachapi.”
He also referenced the recent ribbon-cutting for the Edwards Air Force Base Sanborn Solar and Battery project by Terra-Gen and the Department of Defense. Permitted through Kern County Planning, the project is now the largest single-site solar and storage project in the world, he said.
“Over the past 15 years, private and publicly traded companies have invested over $69 billion in Kern,” Scrivener said of wind and solar projects. “We processed and considered these projects responsibly under CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act), we said ‘no’ to some early, and provided no local tax breaks and waived no government fees. Yet, they still chose Kern County,” he added.
He also mentioned the state’s solar tax exclusion, which has allowed commercial solar projects to avoid reassessment for property tax purposes.
The county developed a cumulative impact charge through the CEQA process that will generate one-time fees, with other projects paying annual fees ranging from $3 million to $5 million, he said, on top of property taxes on land.
When it was proposed, he said, there were threats that companies would leave for other states, including Nevada and Arizona.
“But no one left and all have paid,” Scrivner said.
SHERIFF WILL SPEAK
Sheriff Donny Youngblood will be the speaker at the chamber’s networking luncheon in March, Chamber President Jeanette Pauer said. Remaining luncheons this year are planned for noon on the third Tuesday of March, May, June, July and September, all at Big Papa’s. Eventbrite reservations are recommended. Luncheons will not be held in April, August, October, November or
An addition to the chamber’s offerings this year are free Lunch and Learn sessions.
Upcoming topics include Google Analytics, best practices for cloud storage, how the Small Business Development Center can help
your business, the business apps you should have on your phone and how to use Canva to create professional marketing materials.
Call the chamber at 822-4180 or check the chamber’s Facebook page for details about these free events.