Controversial Kern County Gas Plan Hit with Lawsuits

The “landmark” plan had taken three years to come to a vote this past November and the Kern County Supervisors all gave it the go ahead. The deal gives what the Bakersfield Californian described as “unprecedented regulatory certainty” to petroleum producers in the county in exchange for “costly new measures.”

Two opposition groups have been fighting this plan and filed separate but similar lawsuits, environmentalists arguing that the plan doesn’t do enough for the local environments and ‘split-estate’ farmers who own a properties surface rights but not underlying mineral rights.

The suits both call out the zoning amendment’s environmental review, saying there is a violation of the California Environmental Quality Act by underestimating the impact on local air quality and water supplies.

Kern County Counsel Theresa Goldner defended the new ordinance as the “most comprehensive and stringent local legislation ever imposed on oil and gas operations.” Opponents counter saying, “the zoning amendment ensures local residents will have no recourse to challenge oil and gas extraction activities for at least two decades.”

And there is the fact that a group of oil trade groups have supported this initiative with spending to the tune of at least $13 million.

More on this developing legal battle can be found here.


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