If Kern County is going to move further toward sustainable energy, it’s going to need everyone on board.
That was one of the key messages Wednesday from an environmental policy workshop hosted by the Kern Community College District, as the California Energy Commission sought information ahead of the release of its 2022 Integrated Energy Policy Report update.
The IEPR helps guide the governor’s office when creating policy. This year, seeking to develop a “framework of equity and environmental justice” to guide its work, CEC has scheduled three workshops in areas deemed “disadvantaged” by its CalEnviroScreen pollution assessment tool. Bakersfield was selected to represent the San Joaquin Valley, the first time an IEPR workshop has been held in Kern County.
The equity workshop, featuring local, state and national policy makers, began with opportunities for these leaders to assess their progress toward sustainable energy. KCCD Chancellor Sonya Christian highlighted a $50 million allocation in the state budget for the district’s California Renewable Energy Center of Excellence, focused on workforce development and community engagement.
The discussion took on a different tone when Lori Pesante, director of civic engagement for the Dolores Huerta Foundation, noted that the energy workforce includes members of disenfranchised groups who suffer the consequences of environmental problems such as methane leaks and polluted water. Quoting a proverb – “Until lions have their historians, hunting tales will always glorify the hunter” – Pesante added that these workers often don’t get the chance to build policy themselves, but should occupy a central place in such discussions.
“If we’re going to sequester the carbon using some of the same techniques that were used to extract it in the first place,” Pesante said, “I think we have to be very clear about what that means, and that’s not not just us who need to understand it.
The issue of “just transition” – ensuring workers are protected as the economy shifts from oil and gas to clean energy – involves a variety of logistical factors, added Betony Jones, senior adviser to the department. American Energy. Electric vehicle manufacturing should take place where oil workers live to help them change jobs. And those workers should be able to get credentials that help them get jobs in electric vehicles, Jones added.
“If many oil and gas workers have primarily learned on the job,” she said, “then their experience isn’t necessarily documented in a way that they can use for a new job.”
Shrayas Jatkar, a policy specialist at the California Workforce Development Board, reminded colleagues to consider “what needs might still exist in the oil and gas sector” as part of a just transition, such as land remediation and capping. Wells.
In response to a question from CEC Vice President Siva Gunda on building trust at the local level, Jatkar suggested as an example: “If there is a vote to be taken, maybe the groups communities get three votes against one vote for someone else. It’s a way of trying to tackle what will otherwise be very cumbersome and difficult.
Throughout the workshop, however, several speakers cited examples of successful community outreach. For example, Norma Rojas-Mora, executive director of government relations and development at Bakersfield College, mentioned a rural poverty and health equity summit the school held in Delano in 2019. It was successful, she said, without taking place in the “biggest, brightest place”.
“The biggest feedback we received,” Rojas-Mora said, “was, ‘Thank you so much for providing such a space, for hosting a summit in one of the rural communities. “”
The CEC will accept written comments on the workshop until August 10th.
Journalist Henry Greenstein can be reached at 661-395-7374. Follow him on Twitter: @HenryGreenstein.