Government / Politics

COMMENTARY: San Benito Measure J and Santa Barbara Measure P Similarities

Statewide effort to ban petroleum production by 'environmental activists'

Santa Barbara County and San Benito County have something in common this election cycle; a deceptive "fracking" ban ballot box initiative. The measures were authored by the same legal firm and probably financed by the same so-called environmentalist organizations who have an agenda not in the best economic interests of the respective counties.

Below is an excerpt from a letter to the editor of the Santa Barbara Independent newspaper regarding Santa Barbara County's Measure P by Beth Marino, who is vice-president of legal and corporate affairs for Santa Maria Energy. The similarities are striking:

First, the petition for which signatures were needed to place Measure P on the ballot touted the initiative as a ban on fracking. The Measure P Impact Analysis Report prepared by county staff confirmed, however: “No wells in Santa Barbara County are hydraulically fractured.” Yet Measure P proponents continue to wear T-shirts and hold signs bearing this word. So, why does focus continued to be placed upon a very particular oil field practice that is not used in this county? Perhaps it is because it is a highly charged word that is being employed to install fear in voters? If instead the petition said what it truly is — a petition to stop all enhanced oil recovery techniques that have been used safely and responsibly in this county for decades — it is a safe bet that signature gathering would have been tougher.

Next, we hear repeated claims that existing production in the county will not be affected. Another direct quote from the Impact Analysis Report: “One hundred percent of the active wells use at least one secondary or enhanced recovery technique identified in the measure, if for no other reason, than well maintenance.” That makes it hard to argue existing production will not be affected. Yet many continue to make this now-discredited claim.

Then, there is the attempt to cloak this destructive measure as an effort to prevent water waste. It is another claim without basis in fact. According to a September 2013 report to the Santa Barbara County Water Agency: “The nature of existing [oil and gas] development does not require significant fresh water supplies.” It continues by saying, the local oil and gas “industry is experiencing an increase in production … [but] the actual demand for water is not expected to increase significantly.”

Put simply, Measure P is deceptive. And it will hurt people. Please don’t be fooled.

Vote No on Measure P.

The difference is that San Benito County produces much less oil than Santa Barbara County, which will hurt the economy and raise unemployment significantly in that county.

Vote No on Measure J. 

Michael Smith

Pro-economic growth, pro-music, pro-science, pro-retirement.