Kern County is the epicenter of California’s oil and gas production, accounting for nearly 75 percent of the state’s approximately 85,000 active and new oil and gas wells. Its location on top of a large portion of the Monterey Shale Formation also makes it a prime target for expanded fracking and other drilling.
NRDC’s new analysis found that:
- 35 percent of the county’s residents (290,000 people) live within a mile of at least one oil or gas well.
- Nearly 58 percent of those living within a mile of a well are people of colour (45 percent Hispanic/Latino, 6 percent African American, 4 percent Asian and 3 percent other).
- Nearly half of those living within a mile of a well are already in one of the most polluted communities in the state. Nearly 75 percent of those residents are people of colour.
In contrast, whites are the largest racial/ethnic group living in Kern County communities that are both farther from oil and gas wells and have lower levels of other pollution.
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