Supporters of the initiative celebrate the announcement that it will appear on the November 2014 ballot as Measure P – Protect our water, air and health.
County of Santa Barbara – This week the Santa Barbara County elections office announced that an initiative to prohibit future land uses related to fracking, cyclic steam injection and other high-intensity petroleum operations within the unincorporated area of Santa Barbara County will appear on the November 2014 ballot as “Measure P.” Supporters instantly dubbed it “Measure P — Protect our water, air and health!”
Alarmed by a sudden upsurge in proposed oil extraction projects using risky, high-intensity techniques that use large quantities of water and increase risk of leaks, seepages, and contamination, hundreds of volunteers around the county gathered 16,000 valid signatures in only three weeks to qualify the measure for the ballot, 3,000 more than were needed.
County Supervisors met earlier this month in Santa Maria and after extensive public comment largely in support of the initiative, voted to place it on the November ballot. Assignment of an official letter “P” this week marks the beginning of the formal elections process leading up to the November vote.
If passed, the initiative would not affect current oil projects or conventional production used for the majority of current active wells, but would prohibit future expansion of fracking, cyclic steam injection and other high-intensity petroleum operations. Chemicals involved in these operations are associated with serious health problems such as cancer and birth defects. The increased emission of air pollutants has been tied to a greater risk of respiratory illnesses like asthma and to reduced agricultural yields.
The threatened proliferation of thousands of wells could also negatively impact property values, drive down property tax revenue, destroy scenic vistas and hurt our economy based on agriculture, wine, tourism and technology that rely on clean water supplies and a desirable environment. That is why the measure is widely supported by a broad coalition of Santa Barbara farmers, community groups and environmental organizations.
“We are excited to have an official name as we prepare for the campaign ahead,” said Corrie Ellis of the Santa Barbara County Water Guardians. “Measure P is great because this initiative is all about protection — protecting our water, protecting our air, protecting our health and protecting our county. These extreme oil extraction techniques carry a much higher risk than the conventional drilling that’s taken place in the county for decades. The trade-offs associated with fracking and cyclic steam injection are simply not worth the gamble when our limited water supplies are at risk.”
This is not a new or unique action to take. Measures to ban fracking and high-intensity petroleum operations have been adopted in New Mexico, Colorado and New York to protect public health and safeguard natural resources. In California, a growing number of cities and counties are moving toward enacting temporary moratoria and/or permanent bans, including other areas reliant on tourism and preserving a desirable quality of life like Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and Santa Cruz.
The San Francisco law firm of Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger LLP, which has extensive experience in land use and environmental issues, and attorney Nathan G. Alley of Limestone Law & Policy Advocates thoroughly researched and drafted the Santa Barbara County measure.
Read the initiative here: www.waterguardians.org
Santa Barbara County Water Guardians is a growing coalition of concerned parents, professionals, farmers, students , business, community and environmental organizations opposed to fracking and other high-intensive petroleum operations that threaten our water quality and supplies in Santa Barbara County. Learn more: www.waterguardians.org.
Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger LLP is a law firm specializing in land use, natural resource, environmental, elections, and governmental law. Since 1980, the firm has provided public agencies and community groups with the highest quality legal representation, offering an array of litigation, counseling and planning services. For more information, see: www.smwlaw.com.
Limestone Law & Policy Advocates provides strategic advice and legal counsel to organizations and individuals who are interested in the protection, restoration and enhancement of human health and the environment. The organization is represented in California by Nathan G. Alley, formerly of the Natural Heritage Institute, Sierra Watch and the Santa Barbara-based Environmental Defense Center.