It is a rare occasion when I do not wholeheartedly agree with most endorsements published in The Santa Barbara Independent, but your opposition to Measure P demands a response.
If we are confused about Measure P it is understandable. That is the plan. When oil companies, including Chevron, are willing to spend $5.7 million to protect their interests in oil and gas exploration in our beloved county alone, the profits they foresee must be astronomical. Let’s look a little more closely at Chevron.
Chevron does not have a good safety record or any interest in protecting the environment or citizens in areas it currently is exploiting. They intend to make money not friends. By no means am I saying Chevron is worse than BP, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, or Shell, but they are certainly no better. Profits reported for the “big five” in 2013 were $93 billion or $177,000 per minute. Chevron posted the eighth highest profits of any global public company on the 2013 Fortune 500 list yet received an estimated $700 million in tax breaks for the same period.
Most recently Chevron was in the news when a massive explosion and two fires erupted at its well site in Greene County, PA. Immediately after the explosion, “details were slow to be released from the corporations involved.” Aren’t they always? The “details” include that the larger fire extinguished itself “as water spewing from the ground along with the natural gas doused the flames.” Clearly, claims that groundwater supplies are not affected by onshore drilling cannot possibly be true. Not only can we not allow our groundwater to be contaminated, we have precious little to waste. The explosion itself was described as a “sonic boom” heard miles away, along with some ground vibration, a very dangerous scenario for our county with its proximity to the San Andreas Fault. Over a month after this incident, the County Coroner reported recovering more fragmented remains of Robert McKee, a 27-year-old contract technician who was working on the well when it exploded. How can anyone claim these are jobs worth protecting? Certainly not Mr. McKee’s family who will attest to the fact that he lost his job and his life.
Another of the blatant mis-infomercials we have seen lately on local channels features a man who claims that the technology they plan to use in our county has been used safely “for decades” is, well, a lie. The jury may be out on “fracking” and other invasive methods currently used to extract underground oil and gas, but scientists have begun to speak out. They are saying that using chemicals and water to crack a layer far below ground to liberate gas may pose little risk to underground water supplies, but doing it multiple times at one well site, which is common practice, raises the chance that drinking water could be contaminated. Our ground water is worth its weight in gold so why would we permit the injection of any chemicals anywhere near it? Let’s face it; we just don’t know do we? History certainly gives us cause to be concerned since safety has always been secondary to profits for oil companies.
Most of us are not geologists or rocket scientists. Most of us are just honest, decent, hardworking people who are fortunate enough to reside in one of the most beautiful places in the entire United States, who care deeply about our children and grandchildren. We turned to natural gas as an affordable alternative to oil, but throughout its relatively short history, the energy industry has taught us one painful lesson. Accidents happen, and when they do, they can be catastrophic.
All in all we have a tiny little planet now supporting over 6 billion people, not to mention a rapidly decreasing number of animals clinging to existence in the wild. Millions of tons of pollutants and toxic gases are pumped into the air we breathe every year. We cannot continue to stick our heads in the sand. We cannot pretend they just disappear. We all know they are being dispersed into the atmosphere and affecting our quality of life and our health. Is this the legacy we will leave our children?
History has proven that we cannot believe any faceless corporation whose profits depend on violating our trust by polluting our air, water, and land. Chevron is no different, and the ads we have been forced to watch lately are full of misinformation and fear mongering. How disgraceful. In order to ensure that they can continue to carelessly risk our safety, our future, and our health, they will say anything. All the while robbing us at the gas pumps. Can we just stand by as the life expectancy of our children is lowered because of the greedy few?
We have been so blessed to reap the benefits of strict building codes and controlled development in Santa Barbara. We are known as the American Riviera for a reason, and it is not oil and gas exploration.
If the inevitable explosion, fire, spill, or other misfortune were to happen here, we would suffer the loss of lives, loss of jobs, and notoriety that follows the oil industry around the globe with very little accountability on their part.
I say, not here. Some say Measure P goes too far. I say it doesn’t go far enough to protect all we hold dear. Help preserve our jobs and way of life. Please vote “yes” on Measure P!