Gov. Gavin Newsom, in the Central Valley on Wednesday for a first-hand look at one of the largest oil spills in California history, vowed to go beyond the state’s already aggressive efforts to curtail the use of fossil fuels and seek a long-term strategy to reduce oil production.
Newsom also signaled a sharp break with that past by criticizing existing oversight of the oil industry as too permissive. He promised to begin by retooling the state’s top oil regulatory agency, state Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources.
The Democratic governor made the comments after arriving in the Kern County town of McKittrick on a 100-plus-degree afternoon, just a few miles from the Chevron oil well field where roughly a million gallons spilled into a dry creek bed. Chevron officials blamed the spill — with was about two-thirds water and one-third oil — on an old well that the company recently recapped.
Although Newsom called for greater oversight of oil production, he was careful not to cast himself as an industry opponent. He made note of the local jobs sustained by petroleum production, and he praised both Chevron and state agencies for working to stem and contain the seeping liquid. He added that there was no indication that the spill threatened wildlife or aquifers that supply drinking water for local communities.
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