That The Santa Barbara Independent recommends its readers vote “no” on Measure P is a shameful episode and all the more shocking given the paper’s history on environmental issues and its sense of responsibility to the citizens of Santa Barbara County.
The Indy offered incorrect arguments, echoing recent statements by academics such as E.R.A.N. Smith of UCSB’s Department of Political Science, a respected colleague of mine, whose arguments were refuted by three other eminent colleagues, Catherine Gautier, Bruce Luyendyk, and Allan Stewart-Oaten.
Less than one percent of the county’s budget is provided by oil industry property taxes, according to data provided the County Budget Office! Leaving that aside, The Indy is wrong when it says that these existing oil operations in the county will be affected by the passing of Measure P. If Measure P passes, no workers in the industry will lose their jobs, no existing county tax revenues will be impacted. The budgets and effectiveness of our police and firefighters, of K-12, are not at stake; the only people who would be hurt by the passage of Measure P are the county’s oil industry executives. Period.
The scary ads that say the county would end up spending millions on lawsuits are threats masquerading as Halloween phantasms. The best environmental legal advice was taken in crafting the measure to be challenge proof. Sore losers and greedy oilmen may sue, but they will not win, and eventually they will go away.
Follow the money: The No on P campaign has amassed over $5 million, almost all of it directly from oil interests based outside the county, outspending Yes on P supporters about 20 to 1. Hundreds of county residents are pounding the pavement till their feet get sore to counter the deliberate lies of the No on P campaign that inundate our mailboxes, answering machines, and living rooms.
This outside support points to what the real stakes are here. The fossil fuel industry in the United States, with some of the wealthiest corporations in the history of the world, is beginning to feel pressure from our joyful climate justice movement that is growing in strength, hopefully in time, to save the planet. Unimpeachable logic tells us that in order to have even an 80 percent chance of staying under a dangerous temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius, the world’s people will have to find ways to force these companies to leave 80 percent of all existing reserves of oil, natural gas, and coal in the ground. We don’t need to find any additional, extremely dangerous new sources by fracking, deep-water drilling, mining the Arctic, removing mountain tops, or excavating tar sands — these need to be taken off the table. And that’s what Measure P will do for Santa Barbara County: It will allow us to do what is right by confronting the real, existential threat of climate change, and breathe fresh air with plentiful clean water into the bargain.
Passing Measure P will send a strong message to the fossil fuel industry that the voters do not want the industry’s thoughtless pursuit of profits and greed to have more standing than the health of people in the county, and indeed, every person on the planet.
On November 4, we, the voters of Santa Barbara County can make a little history by adding another ripple to the rising tide of climate justice. By doing this, we will put the interests of our fragile, beautiful planet, and our children’s, grandchildren’s, and great-grandchildren’s interests ahead of the interests of big oil. It’s a no-brainer. Vote “yes” on Measure P!