Allan Hancock College is a widely and deeply appreciated asset of our community. It offers opportunities leading to successful and satisfying lives for so many. But why has it allowed its name to be associated with controversial efforts that may risk the economic future of its students and the health of their families?
The college president has often used his official position to advocate prominently for more dangerous oil operations in North County. Is this policy endorsed by the Board of Trustees?
A reason offered by the administrator in support of a proposed oil project is that it would bring jobs to students. However, according to the oil company’s own figures, it would result in fewer than 10 new direct full-time jobs. Counting on that prospect is like buying lottery tickets and hoping for a lucky windfall. Besides, there are currently many more jobs for graduating students in the safe and renewable energy sector … and this is where our future lies.
If, as the oil companies wish, we follow the path of Kern County, our county revenues would be unreliable. Further, funding for education and other public services could suffer, while air and water pollution and their negative health consequences would increase. Jobs in the agricultural, wine-related, and tourism sectors of our economy would be at risk. All of this would disproportionately impact the same community of students, and their families, that Allan Hancock aims to serve.
The oil companies are proposing to drill 700 wells through the aquifer that provides drinking water to Santa Maria. And, into aquifers adjacent to this precious resource, they seek permission to inject millions of gallons of toxic wastewater. Scientific studies show that we simply cannot know with assurance the underground migration pathways of these toxic liquids.
The oil companies use their deep pockets to offer money directly to respected local institutions to gain their support. But, if Allan Hancock College were to take a clear and bold stand for a better future in favor of safe and renewable energy, it would serve its students, and their families. It could also result in more funding from individuals and organizations that share similar objectives.
So, let’s follow a clean path forward. This is a mission worthy of Allan Hancock.