Response to Muthiah's Prop. P Article
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In the recent elections, Measure P, also known as the Santa Barbara County Fracking Ban Initiative, was defeated. Like first-year Samuel Muthiah described stated in his article last week, the Santa Barbara County Water Guardians was the group behind the measure.
Muthiah quoted that the purpose of Measure P was to ban “High-Intensity Petroleum Operation” such as fracking, steam injection, and acidizing. Fracking, as defined by the Yes on P website, is a technique involving the injection of water, sand and chemicals into the ground in order to break up rocks and extract oil and gas. Proponents of the measure argued that this piece of legislation would help save the environment from extreme oil extraction as well as prevent the limited amount of water resources that California has from being used in the fracking process.
However environmentally conscious and well intentioned the measure may have seemed, the well-informed voter voted No on Measure P. In regards to the point about fracking, the record should be set straight - there is no fracking in Santa Barbara.
In an e-mail correspondence with No on P spokesperson, Sean Duffy, he reported that “there is no fracking in Santa Barbara County and there likely will never be any. The majority of the county sits in what is called the Moterey Shale Formation, which is already naturally fractured [hence, there is no need for manufactured fracking]. This is why when you go to the beach, you will get tar on your feet. All of that tar is being pushed out of the natural cracks by the pressure built up underground. So fracking is not an issue.”
The No on P campaign used Dr. Jim Boles, UCSB Professor Emeritus, Earth Sciences, as their source for this particular information. “I’ve studied this initiative and thought a lot about the impact it will have. It is a poorly designed measure that would shut down nearly all current oil and gas production and would ban future production. It would be very costly for Santa Barbara County,” reported Dr. Jim Boles.
The issue of water conservation was another key point that Yes on P supporters used to scare the public, especially since California seems to be in a perpetual drought. However, their claims that water – our limited, precious, clean water – is being used in fracking would only be valid if, and only if, fracking was actually happening. But, as previously stated, there is no fracking in Santa Barbara County. Duffy also reported, “The vast majority of operations, over 96%, use only salt water in their operations. This isn’t water that would ever be used to solve the drought problem, so [this argument] is a red herring.”
In his article, Muthiah stated, “Critics of Measure P like the No On P group claim that the initiative will cause massive job loss and close down much of the oil and gas industry out of Santa Barbara. These fears, however, are largely unfounded.” According to individual proponents of No on P, these fears are completely founded and valid.
Robin Hayhurst of the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association said, “One of the most important sources of tax revenue for our public services comes from oil production, which has operated safely for decades.”
Hayhurst added. “Measure P would result in the shutdown of existing oil production, costing our county tens of millions each year.”
Former Santa Barbara County Sheriff Jim Thomas said, “Fire protection, law enforcement and schools will lose millions, and more than a thousand of our residents will lose their jobs, bringing great hardship on their families. Voters should look into the facts for themselves and consider the true damage to our economy and the reduction in public services that will result from Measure P.”
Paul Van Leer, President of the Santa Barbara County Farm Bureau and Chairman of the Agricultural Advisor Committee, said, “The Promoters of Measure P say the measure is needed to protect the water supply for agriculture, but that’s just not true. Over 90% of the water used for oil and gas production in the county is undrinkable water that is not used for agriculture.”
Andy Mills, President of the Santa Barbara County Cattleman’s Association, said, “Measure P is a flawed and costly initiative that tramples all over private property and mineral rights. Our local ranchers are greatly concerned that Measure P will shut down nearly all existing onshore oil and gas operations within a few years and will ban future operations. This is an impact that will do great harm to agricultural property values.”
The reason why Measure P was ultimately defeated was because the well-informed voters realized that the measure was flawed and incredibly costly. Not only did the measure call for a shut down of nearly all existing oil and gas production in the county, causing the loss of over 1,000 jobs and the loss of over $16 million in tax revenues each year for schools, fire protection and other government services, but it would also place the county at risk of paying potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in legal damages and increase our dependence on foreign oil.
To anyone who feared that this “environmentally friendly” measure was shut down for the wrong reasons, you can rest assured that the entire Santa Barbara County is better off without it and so are all the families who would have been affected by the job cuts.