Committee for a Better Arvin, et al. v. County of Kern
Rodrigo Romo, Committee for a Better Shafter
The Board of Supervisors put oil companies’ interests above my children’s health and the wellbeing of families across our community. We breathe this air and drink this water every day, but the County did nothing to protect us and other Kern communities from dangerous pollution. Today we challenge their actions to protect ourselves and future generations.
Kern County is a hot bed for oil and gas production in California, and is the nation’s largest oil producing county. This intensity of this industry has a tremendous impact the health and quality of life of Kern County residents, as well as the local environment.
In December 2016, Committee for a Better Arvin, Committee for a Better Shafter and Greenfield Walking Group, represented by CRPE, sued Kern County for passing a new ordinance that would allow the County to fast track permits for oil and gas activities without environmental review or any public notice for the next 20 years. This would allow up to 3,647 new oil and gas wells per year for the next 20 or more years. These 72,000 new wells will be drilled in an area that possesses some of the worst air quality in the country. Oil drilling not only affects air quality but water as well. This lawsuit was filed in coordination with EarthJustice, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Center for Biological Diversity.
As with most environmental hazards, communities of color are disproportionately impacted. In Kern County, the large percentage of Latino residents suffer the impacts oil drilling and fracking near their homes, schools and public spaces. Through this new ordinance the oil industry wants to suppress the voices and organizing of residents to ensure that they cannot challenge new wells. This is especially frightening as both climate change and drought continue to impact the life and environment of the San Joaquin Valley.