By Victoria Rodgers, South Kern Sol
On Friday, May 14th, 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom proposed a revision to the 2021-2022 budget plan.
In what is being called “the biggest economic recovery package in California history,” Newsom is promising sweeping changes in his $267 billion budget proposal called the California Comeback Plan. According to the introduction of the budget summary, this May Revision supports “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to not only speed the state’s recovery from the pandemic, but to address long-standing challenges and provide opportunity for every California family — regardless of their income, race, or ZIP code.”
If the May Revision proposal was to be accepted, Newsom says that a portion of $750 million in funding will be headed towards Kern County with the goal of achieving carbon neutrality. Carbon neutrality refers to achieving net-zero carbon dioxide emissions. This can be done by balancing emissions of carbon dioxide with its removal or by eliminating emissions from society.
“Here’s something that’s a cause that’s important to me and a cause that I also hope is important to you and that’s transitioning to a carbon-neutral economy. We’re not playing small ball here. And I hope people can appreciate – particularly in Kern County – I hope folks in Kern County can appreciate because Kern County will be the disproportionate beneficiary of $750 million for transitioning to carbon neutrality. We will — we are transitioning,” Gov. Newsom said in his California Roars Back livestream on May 14th, 2021, “From the old ways of energy production and exploration to the opportunities that present themselves anew.”
Like many measures previously proposed, Newsom plans to eliminate fracking and oil drilling in California. With about 15,000 people working in the oil industry in Kern County, the creation of new job opportunities has been foreshadowed. Newsom proclaims that transitioning to greener methods of energy production will help to create jobs. Projects pertaining to solar and wind will help to create jobs for people throughout the state.
Although Kern County has thousands of oil rigs, the county is also home to the Catalina Solar Project, one of the largest solar projects in the world. During his drive through Kern County last week, Newsom noticed this startling juxtaposition.
“So you see this contrast taking shape,” he stated during his livestream. “What we want is to be there – support those in that transition. Not rhetorically, people talk all the time about just transition and then walk away. We want to be there substantively. To help with that workforce; to transition to carbon neutrality.”
In addition to the goal of achieving carbon neutrality and transitioning to greener energy production, the California Comeback plan will also provide immediate relief for those hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, confront the homelessness and housing affordability crisis, transform public schools into gateways for opportunity build infrastructure for the next century, and combat wildfires and tackle climate change. He also he asked lawmakers to add $1.5 billion to a state program that provides grants to small businesses. Lawmakers have until mid-June to consider the plan.