After a state appeals court blocked Kern County’s effort to speed up new oil and gas drilling, officials overseeing the state’s prime oil patch have revised an ordinance that could permit tens of thousands of new wells over the next 15 years.
The Kern County Board of Supervisors is poised to vote Monday on the plan that would streamline the permitting process by creating a blanket environmental impact report for drilling as many as 2,700 wells a year.
While the petroleum industry supports the changes, environmentalists and community groups have said the plan has barely changed and doesn’t address violations of the California Environmental Quality Act.
The 5th District Court of Appeal in Fresno last year found the 2015 plan violated the law by not fully evaluating or disclosing environmental damage that would occur from drilling.
“They’re attempting this huge end-around of this fundamental environmental protection,” said attorney Hollin Kretzmann of the Center for Biological Diversity. “If you drill a well in Kern County, you’re going to get a rubber-stamp permit.”
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