Supporters turned out for Santa Maria Energy at a November hearing.
Len Wood / Santa Maria Times File Photo

The proponents of Measure P claim it will not shut down existing oil production in Santa Barbara County. Specifically, the leader of this effort, Katie Davis, stated to The Santa Barbara Independent that “this ban … would not impact projects that have already been approved, like the 136-well project from Santa Maria Energy approved by the Board of Supervisors last fall.”

Perhaps Ms. Davis really believed that when she said it. But it is not true.

The very specific language of the initiative would prohibit development of the Santa Maria Energy project that Ms. Davis claimed would not be affected.

Unless P is defeated, the approval given to Santa Maria Energy by the Board of Supervisors last November after a very long, very comprehensive, and very expensive environmental review process will mean nothing.

But then again, it will mean something.

It will mean our electrical engineer, Michael, whose daughter Dylan just turned one, will lose his job. So will 28-year old Petroleum Engineer Trey, who has 11-month-old Madeline. And recent Cal Poly graduate Ian, also an engineer, who just received a promotion to facilities and production foreman. It means field technicians Lucky, Eduardo, Wilson, and Mario. It means our intern Sam, another recent graduate who needs a permanent job to stay in the town where he grew up. It means father of four George. It means Joyce, Denice, and Carie. It means Jedd and Mark. And Justin, Laurie, and Bob. It means all our hard-working and dedicated employees, including me.

It also means the end of Santa Maria Energy’s plan to hire additional permanent employees to help operate the project. And, it means the loss of the construction and indirect jobs that would have been created by this project. It means the economic benefits to be received by the county from the Santa Maria Energy project will be lost.

Measure P proponents may tell you that I can’t be trusted because I work for an oil company; that working for an oil company means I don’t care about the environment, my neighbors, or the safety of my coworkers. In short, that I don’t care about the community where I work. Setting aside the personal offense I take from that exceptionally intolerant point of view, I ask you to examine the record yourself to determine where credibility is lacking.

First, the petition for which signatures were needed to place Measure P on the ballot touted the initiative as a ban on fracking. The Measure P Impact Analysis Report prepared by county staff confirmed, however: “No wells in Santa Barbara County are hydraulically fractured.” Yet Measure P proponents continue to wear T-shirts and hold signs bearing this word. So, why does focus continued to be placed upon a very particular oil field practice that is not used in this county? Perhaps it is because it is a highly charged word that is being employed to install fear in voters? If instead the petition said what it truly is — a petition to stop all enhanced oil recovery techniques that have been used safely and responsibly in this county for decades — it is a safe bet that signature gathering would have been tougher.

Next, we hear repeated claims that existing production in the county will not be affected. Another direct quote from the Impact Analysis Report: “One hundred percent of the active wells use at least one secondary or enhanced recovery technique identified in the measure, if for no other reason, than well maintenance.” That makes it hard to argue existing production will not be affected. Yet many continue to make this now-discredited claim.

Then, there is the attempt to cloak this destructive measure as an effort to prevent water waste. It is another claim without basis in fact. According to a September 2013 report to the Santa Barbara County Water Agency: “The nature of existing [oil and gas] development does not require significant fresh water supplies.” It continues by saying, the local oil and gas “industry is experiencing an increase in production … [but] the actual demand for water is not expected to increase significantly.”

Put simply, Measure P is deceptive. And it will hurt people. Please don’t be fooled.

Vote No on Measure P.

Beth Marino is vice-president of Legal & Corporate Affairs for Santa Maria Energy.


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