As a former Santa Barbara County Fire Department captain, father, taxpayer, and a person who enjoys drinking water on a regular basis, I am disheartened by the misinformation about Measure P’s supposed impact on firefighting budgets.
I served as the Petroleum Review Officer for the County Fire Department during a portion of my 25-year tenure there. I know and understand the relationship between oil and firefighting, and I am proud to be a strong supporter of Measure P.
Measure P will not affect the Fire Department’s budget. Sadly, powerful business interests were able to convince some of our very dedicated first responders into supporting their No on P campaign. I have worked with many of these wonderful people, and I know how high they place their dedication to protecting all of us. I also know very well that the funding for their efforts is well protected and will not be affected by Measure P.
That’s because Measure P only prevents the drilling of new wells using fracking, steam injection, and acidizing, so it doesn’t affect current oil revenue. Furthermore, oil industry revenue is a very small part of the county budget. Even minor fluctuations in the real estate market have a much more dramatic effect on the county budget. Our first responders continued to perform admirably even during the recent financial downturn.
What we do know is that we cannot trust the petroleum industry. Recent studies have shown that almost 20 percent of wells using these dangerous techniques fail — and just one failure could irrevocably pollute our groundwater. That could drive down real estate values as has happened elsewhere when waste water from high-intensity wells have polluted community water supplies. Cleaning up the impacts of those spills would create major problems for our entire community, and the loss of property values caused by contamination would have much greater potential to impact Fire Department budgets than any supposed loss of oil tax revenue.
These extreme techniques also require enormous amounts of water, which we simply cannot afford to use in that manner during a drought. Using precious water we need for drinking and agriculture — and firefighting — to draw out oil, in addition to employing the most dangerous extraction techniques known, just doesn’t make sense, and it puts our local economy at great risk.
Finally, Measure P is very well written. The oil industry is spending somewhere in excess of $6 million to defeat a short, well-drafted, 29-page document, that carefully protects our county, our water, our health, our agriculture, and our way of life. The measure is legally sound, and, despite the claims and scare tactics employed by the oil industry, Measure P will easily withstand any legal challenge, while it protects our county from millions of dollars of lost revenue as a result of having to clean up the potential damage caused by extreme extraction techniques.
Please don’t be fooled into sacrificing our water and our health. Please join me, and vote “yes” on Measure P.