Unreliable Oil

Your article on our county supervisors mentioned that, “some are calling for more oil drilling and development to boost county revenue.” This is a terrible idea put up to distract us from the air and water pollution that would be the inevitable result of these dangerous oil projects.

I did some research and have written confirmation from the county budget director that revenue from oil companies makes up less than one percent of the county budget.

I used to work at a tech company where my job was to maximize hundreds of millions dollars a year revenue that came through our online sales channel. What I didn’t do was focus on the most unpredictable and expensive-to-serve tiny minority of customers. Instead, I focused on bringing in and maximizing revenue from the majority of customers, particularly the high-value, long-term, and reliable ones.

Oil companies are like those expensive and undesirable customers. A boom and bust industry with unreliable property tax revenue, they cost tax payers money by increasing costs of road maintenance, administration, emergency services, pollution, etc. Even collecting taxes is expensive as they contest them. In fact, the county is likely losing money on this industry. For instance, how much of the $257 million backlog of road maintenance in the county is due to the oil industry?

Oil projects are not the answer to budget shortfalls. In fact, they will make the budget situation worse. Kern County, with 80 percent of oil production in the state, just had to slash its 2016/17 county budget by $545 million and lay off many people.

Balancing the county budget is better done by increasing revenues from larger and more reliable sources and/or cutting costs — and by protecting our water and environment for the long term.


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