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Well, it appears that AERA Energy has thrown in the towel. The reasons given were the global drop in the price of oil coupled with the ever-increasing regulatory demands from the county. There is little we can do to control the influence on crude prices, none that compare to the foreign petroleum producing giants. While it is easy to ponder the negative impact that these almost predictable “drop in prices” create, it seems that their frequency is timed to destroy any projects stuck in the quagmire of our domestic, politicly charged, regulatory permitting process.
Some see yet another failed petroleum project as a great victory for our community. Those at the front of that parade are the individuals that profit from obstructing yet another good-paying petroleum project. These zealots sitting up in their ivory towers would have you believe that this community should rejoice over the corpse of yet another oil permit application. I believe this kind of thinking creates casualties in our community, the first of which is good-paying jobs. The second is the loss of massive tax revenues that supports important community services like mental health and our local school districts. Those funds also support hospitals, fire, and other emergency response services as well!
I am shocked at the level of ignorance of some of our leaders, those who believe an electric car is devoid of the need for petroleum products. Are you kidding? Approximately 50 percent of all cars, yes, electric cars, as well, are constructed from plastics, hence oil! I do not see that changing anytime soon.
We have an opportunity here in Santa Barbara to prove to the world that oil can be produced in a highly regulated environment. We must strictly adhere to regulations that protect our water, our people, our jobs, and our economy. But in all endeavors lie risk, this is a fact of life. We must balance all these variables. But when the process comes with a movable goal post, it has become almost impossible to successfully bring these projects to fruition.
While another local project goes down in flames, rest assured that our foreign providers will fill in the gap — those with zero regard for their environment. And you call this a victory for the people of Santa Barbara? Hardly.
Michael G. Lopez is business manager for U.A. Plumbers and Pipefitters Local Union 114.