This story sounds eerily like what happened in Fort Worth, Texas, in the past five years (Voices, “Big Oil Takes Small Town,” 5/27/10). Fort Worth was the first large city in the U.S.A. to allow drilling in the city. Chesapeake Energy and others blasted us with an unprecedented PR campaign that included Tommy Lee Jones on giant billboards, full page ads in the paper every day for years, TV and radio ads. They even had their own TV shows trying to convince people that drilling was okay.
Our town is now ruined. Drilling is allowed in every zoning class. Pollution has more than doubled. Tanker trucks speed through neighborhoods carrying toxic waste. Our water supply is threatened. Thousands of acres of green space are now five-acre gravel drill pads. Hundreds of miles of new pipelines full of unodorized natural gas snake through every neighborhood. Surprisingly, the money is not helping. The city of Fort Worth is near bankruptcy. Public pools, closed. Health Department, closed. Library hours, slashed. Parks services, slashed.
Learn from Fort Worth what not to do. Carpinteria needs to just say no to Venoco or the town will no longer be livable.—Don Young, Fort Worth Citizens Against Neighborhood Drilling Operations
Riding around Carpinteria I see “Yes on J” signs and I have to question their accuracy. “Supported by Public Safety”? Being a local, I depend on the fire Department, the sheriffs office, and my city government to keep me safe.
The Carpinteria-Summerland Fire District Board and the local firefighters union have taken no position on “J”. After reviewing the website of their endorsements, it seems the Santa Barbara County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association has also not taken a position, and our City Council has publicly taken a position against Measure J. Every local environmental protection organization has also come out against “J”. So who is “Public Safety for Measure J“?
“Good for the environment”? “Good for our kids”? How can any company in good conscience declare that a process that is fraught with inherent dangers (i.e. oil spills, explosions, noxious fumes) is “good” for our environment or our local neighborhoods? Our local school board and administration are also responsible in part for our kids’ safety. As of this writing only one school board member has endorsed Measure J, while two board members have come out publicly against it.
“Environmentally superior”? If you look at the environmental review there are three—not two—options. Offshore, onshore, or NOT AT ALL. Currently state and federal law doesn’t allow option one: offshore. Option two has at least 11 unmitigable impacts, hence Venoco’s end run around the Carpinteria General Plan. The environmentally “superior” plan is not to drill at all.
If we voters open up this Pandora’s Box, we might never be able to close it! “NO on J” means yes to our environment, our safety, and our kids.—Fred Shaw