Bakersfield · Energy

Bakersfield lawmakers urges Calif. to lift oil permit restrictions

Amid historic high gas prices, the City of Bakersfield is calling on the state to suspend its limitations on oil drilling.

Wednesday, the Bakersfield City Council unanimously passed a resolution officially codifying its request, with the argument that local production will lead to lower gas prices.

“The City Council finds and declares that a suspension of state limitations on oil and gas permitting and extraction will allow local producers to ease supply disruptions caused by the recent unprovoked Russian invasion of Ukraine,” the resolution reads. 

As noted in the resolution, California imported around 50,000 barrels of oil every day from Russia – accounting for 6.7 percent of the state’s total imports – before the federal ban on Russian imports was decreed. 

“[A] reversal of California’s proposed oil phaseout would encourage producers to use California’s own natural resources to provide immediate economic relief to consumers throughout the state,” the resolution reads. 

At the center of Bakersfield’s request is the state’s “substantial backlog of permit applications” – as noted in the resolution – that have not been approved. 

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R–Bakersfield) noted in a letter he sent to Gov. Gavin Newsom earlier this year that there were over 1,000 permit applications sitting on his desk waiting for approval. 

Bakersfield’s action follows up a similar effort from the Kern County Board of Supervisors last month urging the state to suspend all permitting limitations. 

Fresno County also entered the ring, putting pressure on the state and federal governments to increase domestic oil production with a March resolution.

Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.