In her recent opinion piece (“Community Voices: Don’t bite the county that feeds you,” July 11), state Sen. Shannon Grove argues that people who oppose continued oil drilling in Kern County are “out of touch” with what our county needs; the reality is what we need most is a responsible transition away from fossil fuels, to protect our health, our climate, and our economy.
Climate change is not a made-up problem or something far off in the future. Our community is already experiencing extreme weather from climate change, as well as the pollution that the oil industry dumps into our air and water every day. The American Lung Association rates the county an F in ozone and particle pollution. The cost of the destruction of health is nowhere near the $200 million the oil and gas industry paid the county for, with health risks including cancer, pre-term births, and over 30% of kids under 17 diagnosed with asthma. The oil industry is on its way out, and transitioning to clean energy is inevitable; it’s happening right here whether we like it or not.
Kern County can either embrace its role as a leader in energy and meet the challenge of an economic transition to clean energy or continue with business as usual, relying on a single source of revenue and allowing oil executives to reap massive financial benefits while our community suffers from toxic air and water left behind. Elected officials who want to keep us in the past are the ones who are really out of touch with what Kern County needs.
-Mercedes Macias, Tehachapi
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