Bakersfield has become the first city in the nation to call for the extension of a federal solar panel tax credit.

The Bakersfield City Council voted 5-1 Wednesday night in favor of a resolution supporting extending the tax credit past its 2016 expiration date. The credit is officially called the Solar Investment Tax Credit and was established in 2005 to help jump start the solar panel industry.

City Council member Willie Rivera says the solar sector is still growing in Bakersfield, and ending the tax credit could take away an economic driver.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Bakersfield’s Wild West Shopping Center is getting a new owner. FM89’s Joe Moore reports on why the city council voted last night to buy the property.

The nearly 5 acre parcel sits where westbound Highway 58 dead-ends into Highway 99. For years extending freeway access on 58 to the west side has been a top city priority - a plan now known as the Centennial Corridor freeway.

Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition the program begins with Political Junkie Ken Rudin speaking with VE Host Joe Moore about Kevin McCarthy and how he could become the next House Speaker. 

Office of Kevin McCarthy

Fresno State political scientist Thomas Holyoke says the political future of Bakersfield Representative Kevin McCarthy looks bright. McCarthy, Holyoke says, is the odds on favorite to be the next Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. It’s a powerful position that could mean big things for representative and the valley. Holyoke takes on some of the bigger questions facing McCarthy.

Why would McCarthy want this job if John Boehner doesn’t?

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Spurred on by a request by local oil industry leaders, Kern County is currently exploring a plan that would dramatically revamp the way the county permits oil and gas wells. Under an environmental study that's currently in the works, getting a new well permit could become as easy as getting a county building permit.

Five Years Later, Bakersfield's Roy Ashburn Reflects On His Journey

Aug 4, 2015
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

A former Republican lawmaker who came out as gay months before leaving the California Legislature says he was wrong to oppose gay rights measures – including bills to legalize same-sex marriage.

Roy Ashburn termed out after representing Bakersfield for 14 years in the Assembly and Senate. He was arrested for drunken driving five years ago after leaving a gay night club in Sacramento. He came out days later.

Valley Fever Cases Down Since Drought Began

Jul 14, 2015
Craig Kohlruss / Just One Breath - Reporting On Health Collaborative / The Fresno Bee

California health experts are surprised that the incidence of Valley Fever has gone down during the drought. The fungal infection is commonly spread in arid, dusty conditions. But, even though the state is drier, the number of cases continues to drop. Capital Public Radio's Lesley McClurg has the story.

Valley Fever peaked in 2011 with more than 5,000 cases in California. Last year there were fewer than half that. Dr. James Watt is the Chief of the Division of Communicable Diseases for the California Department of Public Health.

Report Shows Potential Fracking Problems

Jul 10, 2015
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A new report out  Thursday says regulations for the process known as hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" need to be tightened to prevent environmental problems.  And, as Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, new legislation could emerge to do just that.

The peer-reviewed study from the California Council on Science and Technology was required as part of fracking legislation the state passed in 2013. 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A proposed power plant that would convert coal into hydrogen and fertilizer near the community of Tupman in Kern County has been granted a six month reprieve from the California Energy Commission. 

What do General William Tecumseh Sherman, the Greek god Zeus and Sir Lancelot all have in common? They've all lent their names to popular beers from local craft breweries. It turns out the San Joaquin Valley is in the midst of a craft beer boom, from Bakersfield to Turlock, making it one of the area’s hottest food and beverage trends. What's behind the explosive growth, and is there a definitive local style of beer?