County Supervisors heard overwhelmingly positive comments the Healthy Air & Water Initiative hearing on June 13 to ban fracking, acidizing, and steam injection in the pursuit of petroleum.
Supervisors did not accept the staff report, which failed to note that the majority of current production is conventional and that a dramatic increase in these riskier high-intensity techniques would bring with it increased costs. This gaping hole in the report was pointed out by Supervisor Janet Wolf, who explained that the report failed to include the fiscal impact of contaminated groundwater and polluted air.
External costs are the costs associated with a certain industry or practice that are not paid for by the industry but rather paid for by society. California is currently in one of the worst droughts it has ever faced, and Santa Barbara County is no better off. These high-intensity techniques use an incredible amount of water and also can contaminate groundwater. Certain areas in the county already experience poor air quality. These operations spew particulate matter and other toxic emissions, causing asthma and other respiratory diseases, cancer, and heart disease. In Ohio, Oklahoma, and many other states, scientists have also linked fracking and wastewater re-injection to earthquakes.
Santa Barbara County will be financially better off if we preserve our environment’s natural beauty and avoid increased external costs that hospitals, government, and Santa Barbara taxpayers will bear the cost for. This initiative is good for families, healthy air and water, and our economy.