Das and Anti-Das

Can’t Blame Susan Jordan: I find it morbidly curious and odd that Assembly District 35 candidate Das Williams’s supporters up in Santa Barbara are complaining that Susan Jordan would seize on a big difference between the two candidates and highlight it in her mailers. He supported the first new offshore oil drilling in state waters in 41 years even after the trade-off the Santa Barbara environmental groups made with the oil company was ruled by legal experts to be unenforceable. She didn’t. Unhappy that his buddies didn’t get their way, he jumped into the race and challenged somebody he had said he would support.

So with the unimaginable devastation going on down in the Gulf, who could blame Susan Jordan for pointing out that offshore oil drilling remains a risky business?—Suz Montgomery, Ventura

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Don’t Be Fooled by Rhetoric: As someone who has followed the Democratic race for the 35th Assembly District seat and the development of the PXP agreement closely, I find criticism of Das Williams as pro-oil development or anti-environment unfounded and ridiculous.

Das, a graduate of UCSB’s Bren School of Environmental Science, has been a staunch opponent of offshore drilling and an advocate for the environment consistently and relentlessly. His opponent has her own environmental credentials.

What many people do not realize is, offshore rigs can continue to operate as long as they are profitable; potentially forever. Federal offshore oil leases have no end date. Platform A, which infamously ruptured in 1969, more than 40 years ago, is still operating. The PXP agreement (negotiated with established groups like the Environmental Defense Center and Get Oil Out!) would literally stop oil production: all four of PXP’s rigs (of the 20 total rigs still out there) would be shut down. The tradeoff was support for limited oil production from Platform Irene.

Without such an approach, what are those of us who are concerned about the hazards of offshore drilling supposed to do? Wait and wait and wait and hope we will not experience another Platform A debacle damaging our beautiful coastline again?

Many people, including elected officials, regulators, the local environmental community, and other stakeholders looked at this agreement carefully and concluded, on balance, it was the right compromise. Just look at those who endorsed the agreement, including the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors and City Council. Can anyone seriously claim those are anti-environmental groups?

Rest assured, Das Williams was and is an environmentalist. Don’t be fooled by campaign rhetoric.—Mike Hackett, S.B.

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Environmental Leadership: I know from personal experience that Das Williams is an outstanding and effective environmental advocate. He has been part of our local environmental movement his entire life. As a Board member of the Environmental Defense Center, Das fought hard to oppose new oil leasing off our coast. As staff to former Assembly member Hannah-Beth Jackson, Das helped author legislation supporting the federal oil moratorium and blocking new oil tankering. As a Santa Barbara City Council Member, Das has taken a leadership role in the City opposing offshore oil development and helped author the resolution adopted by the City opposing new leasing in federal waters.

But Das doesn’t just say “no.” He also finds solutions. He has led the City in transitioning to a renewable energy future, making the City a leader in our state and nation. Under his leadership, the City has doubled its use of alternative energy and created hundreds of green sustainable jobs.

To pretend that Das Williams is pro-oil is the same as saying that Congresswoman Lois Capps, former Assembly member Hannah-Beth Jackson, Santa Barbara County Supervisors Salud Carbajal, Janet Wolf, and Doreen Farr, and Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider are pro-oil. They all joined Das in supporting a plan to end existing drilling off Santa Barbara County’s coast.

I support Das Williams for State Assembly because he is a visionary and will move our community and state in a positive direction.—Linda Krop


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