2022 State of the County

Aubrianna Martinez, Senior Digital Editor

KGET streamed the annual State of the County presentation on Jan. 29. Local government officials such as Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Zack Scrivner, Mayor of Taft Dave Noerr, John Moore from the Kern County Farm Bureau, and Director of NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center David McBride spoke on the economy, energy development, agriculture, and use of Edwards Air Force Base, all of which serve Kern County and its community. There was no mention of Kern County’s current water situation.

The State of the County demonstrated how Kern County is pivotal for the state by breaking down how Kern County’s yielded exports in multiple sectors. Scrivner summarized that Kern currently “produces 60% of California’s wind and solar energy, 80% of California’s oil, and 46% of California’s natural gas.”

Scrivner also described the county’s tempestuous relationship with big government. “Kern County continues to fall under attack from federal and state regulations. It is imperative that we push back hard against bad policy decisions impacting our energy and agriculture industries that are critical to local employment and tax revenues,” he stated. 

He referenced the current policy problems between the county and the state, “Governor Newsom’s misguided attack on our highest tax producing industry—oil and gas—is an attack on the families and communities of Kern County. […] The governor’s anti-oil agenda has a disproportionate impact on the poorest among us,” Scrivner said. 

This is no doubt in reference to Newsom’s bill that would ban the issuing of fracking permits by 2024, which the Kern County Board of Supervisors is taking him to court over. Noerr spoke more specifically on the subject of Kern’s energy industry, defending the current practices. “Every single day we look at how we do it: to come up with a better way, a more efficient way, a safer way, a more environmentally friendly way to actually enhance things so that we can be net neutral, or actually capture carbon,” he said.

McBride emphasized the community aspect of the research center in Edwards Air Force Base within the county. He explained that the research center “has an annual budget of about $350 million a year, we have about a thousand employees who live in the local community and bring good jobs to the community, that $350 million a year doesn’t just evaporate—it goes into paychecks, salaries, subcontractors, support, food, logistics, health, medical, everything it takes to keep 1,200 people active supporting our flight research mission.”

While there was no mention of Kern’s solution for droughts and water storage, Moore referenced how that has been navigated, “farmers in Kern County are able to do more with less, do more in terms of yields, with less molecules of water than anywhere else in the state, and really anywhere else in the world,” he said.