While we do realize that Measure P has been covered in online segments of the paper, and that the content selected for print does not necessarily reflect journalistic priorities, we were nonetheless disheartened to see that the only printed coverage of the measure was a full-page advertisement for No on P. And purposeful or not, readers will inevitably regard material in print with a heightened degree of credence. We also understand that the advertising department of the Nexus is completely separate from the editorials office, and that as an unbiased news source, the paper cannot discriminate in which ad offers it accepts.
The fact that No on P asserted themselves in print through a paid advertisement exemplifies their campaign approach — spending nearly $6 million to make this one of the most expensive local ballot initiatives in history. No one should be surprised that one of the most powerful industries in the world is expending a negligible fraction of their assets to protect future investments. But what many of us do find appalling is the fact that the heart of the No on P campaign relies on presenting false, misleading scare tactics to crowd out the conversation.
The $5.7 million campaign our adversaries have waged locally has inundated our county with an unprecedented amount of misinformation over our airwaves, phone lines and newspaper ads. It’s worth doing some fact checking.
Because this proposed measure bans only future well treatment options — specifically just the three most dangerous and carbon-intensive — we should all be clear on this: Measure P will not directly affect existing jobs or tax revenue for our community. It’s easy to pin the wellbeing of our schools or our critical fire and public safety services against this proposed measure, but only if you aren’t committed to remaining truthful.
Currently, the countywide oil industry — that is, any and all oil extraction techniques — account for just 1% of local jobs and GDP, including indirect impact. This doesn’t account for the negative effects on tourism and decreased property values housing can experience in proximity to oil extraction. And yet, it can’t be stressed enough that because Measure P doesn’t apply to current oil production, none of this tax revenue is relevant to the debate. We caution you not to slip into big oil’s insidious farce.
Furthermore, an overwhelming majority of the oil extracted in our county is of too low a quality to be converted into any sort of energy product, and is thus turned into asphalt.
Measure P is a ban on “well stimulation treatments,” specifically, cyclic steam injection, acidization and fracking: three separate techniques, but the same in one crucial way. These treatments all require pumping massive amounts of water underground (worst drought in 50 years anyone?) to stimulate the fossil fuel reserve and coax oil out of the ground. The by-product of this process is an impressive amount of toxic waste, waste that needs to be stored somewhere. The current go-to place of storage is in underground injection wells — right next to our groundwater (the source of roughly half our drinking water).
Back in July, the CA Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) shut down eleven injection wells and began investigations on nearly 100 others throughout the state out of concern for the sanctity of nearby groundwater. Earlier this month, the Center for Biological Diversity confirmed that at least nine of these injection wells were disposing of wastewater directly into groundwater aquifers. Yes, you read correctly. In nine locations across the state, groundwater was being directly infused with toxic waste.
While it is true that at the moment there are no active fracking projects in Santa Barbara County, there are many cyclic steam injection sites which carry just as high a risk of toxic contamination.
Measure P will serve to protect our economy, not hurt it. But don’t take my word for it. Go educate yourself — look into the truth about the facts, then get back to me.
This letter has been submitted on behalf of Gauchos Against Fracking