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Oil, Gas, and Geothermal


When the Spanish explorers landed in California in the 1500s, they found Indians gathering asphaltum (very thick oil) from natural seeps. The asphaltum was used for many purposes, including waterproofing baskets, making wooden canoes, fastening arrowheads to shafts, and decorating objects—usually with shells affixed to the asphaltum.


The explorers, in turn, used asphaltum to seal seams in their ships.  Later, settlers used the thick asphaltum in many ways, including sealing the roofs of their houses.  Settlers used the seeps to lubricate their wagon wheels with oil. They distilled it for use as lamp oil.


Drilling of oil wells in California started in the 1860's with the use of oil for kerosene and subsequently the diesel engine.  This led to discovery of oil fields in Kern County (Midway-Sunset Oil Field), in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, in the 1890's.  Other oil fields were subsequently discovered including the Round Mountain, Mount Poso, and Kern River Oil Fields.  Both the Midway-Sunset and Kern River Oil Fields are listed among the top 25 historic producing oil fields in the U.S.   Note that natural gas is also found associated with these oil fields.

There is some potential for oil and gas along the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  Some oil and gas wells have been located in places like Yuba County for example.  Regardless, the residents and businesses of the Sierra Nevada Mountains are dependent on petroleum related products.  This can include gasoline for automobiles.  It can include propane or natural gas that we cook with.  However, many things we use in our daily lives, including plastics, come from the petroleum industry.


The Sierrans for Responsible Resource Development, the "Sierrans", believe in responsible and sustainable development of oil and natural gas resources in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  Sierran Nevada Mountain residents need petroleum products in our every-day lives.  It only makes the most sense to produce these products locally, under stringent environmental controls.

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