Friday, May 27 , 2016, 6:59 am | Fair 53º




Dennis Allen: A Businessman’s Perspective on Measure P

By Dennis Allen |

Construction is a cyclical industry. As the owner of a construction company here in Santa Barbara County, I have focused on trying to dampen these high and low swings. By not having to lay off any employees since the 2008 economic downturn, it seems fair to say that we have been reasonably successful.

For 30 years, my business has focused on the long term — where do we as a community, a county and a society need to head? The clear answer for us was, and is, energy efficiency, better use of resources, green building and harnessing the sun. On the big stage, all of these strategies help address climate change, the biggest threat that our planet faces today.

How does this relate to Measure P, the initiative to ban high-intensity petroleum extraction that will appear on the county ballot in November? Just as construction is a cyclical industry, petroleum extraction is even more of a boom and bust industry.

Ninety-eight percent of the industry jobs are in drilling, and most of these jobs (80 percent) are taken by nonlocals who have specialized expertise. These are short-term jobs as we have seen in places where these high-intensity extraction technologies have been employed on a large scale such as Pennsylvania and North Dakota. This kind of employment does not sustain itself and, therefore, is not healthy for our county.

Because we are in transition from a fossil fuel to a renewable energy based economy, we will continue to need fossil fuels into the foreseeable future, but as a steadily diminishing portion of the energy mix. Sensibly, Measure P does not impact any of the existing petroleum wells or production, nor any of the jobs that are a part of this activity. It only impacts the future of high-risk, high-intensity wells, the ones that we really don’t need as we shift to renewables.

In reality, new high-intensity wells using fracking, acidization and steam injection would be moving us in the opposite direction from the sensible path along which we are trending. If anything, we need to be accelerating our adoption of clean energy projects and technologies. Fortunately, Santa Barbara is ideally situated to lead the clean energy transformation with its abundant sunshine, ocean currents and wind.

The good news is that a great number of innovations in renewable energy technologies and storage systems are starting to pop up. In solar electric generation alone, the costs keep dropping, the energy density of panels keeps increasing, the use of new, more effective materials keep being discovered, and the efficiencies of systems are making steady improvements. The costs to produce energy using solar and wind systems are now mostly equal to or less than energy costs using natural gas or coal (the cheapest of the fossil fuels), even without factoring in the huge environmental and health costs associated with the latter. Furthermore, the trend is that the cost for renewable power on almost all fronts keeps decreasing while that generated from using fossil fuel is universally increasing as energy companies rely on increasingly aggressive extraction techniques.

Partially for this reason, solar is the fastest-growing component of our energy mix. For those concerned about well-paying, long-term jobs, the renewable energy sector is already creating more employment per dollar invested than the fossil fuel industry.

I recently took a four-day trip around the perimeter of Santa Barbara County. The second evening I deviated 20 miles into Kern County and spent the night in Taft, a major oil producing center for the past 80 years. I was shocked. It is an unsightly wasteland. I would not wish this blight on any place, certainly not on Santa Barbara County.

Supporting Measure P will preserve the natural beauty of our county, keep our economy vibrant, and facilitate us along the path to a sustainable, clean energy future.

— Dennis Allen is the owner and chairman of Allen Construction, which employs 120 local workers, has a North County office and provides construction services throughout Santa Barbara County.




Reader Comments

Noozhawk's intent is not to limit the discussion of our stories but to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and must be free of profanity and abusive language and attacks.

By posting on Noozhawk, you:

» Agree to be respectful. Noozhawk encourages intelligent and impassioned discussion and debate, but now has a zero-tolerance policy for those who cannot express their opinions in a civil manner.

» Agree not to use Noozhawk’s forums for personal attacks. This includes any sort of personal attack — including, but not limited to, the people in our stories, the journalists who create these stories, fellow readers who comment on our stories, or anyone else in our community.

» Agree not to post on Noozhawk any comments that can be construed as libelous, defamatory, obscene, profane, vulgar, harmful, threatening, tortious, harassing, abusive, hateful, sexist, racially or ethnically objectionable, or that are invasive of another’s privacy.

» Agree not to post in a manner than emulates, purports or pretends to be someone else. Under no circumstances are readers posting to Noozhawk to knowingly use the name or identity of another person, whether that is another reader on this site, a public figure, celebrity, elected official or fictitious character. This also means readers will not knowingly give out any personal information of other members of these forums.

» Agree not to solicit others. You agree you will not use Noozhawk’s forums to solicit and/or advertise for personal blogs and websites, without Noozhawk’s express written approval.

Noozhawk’s management and editors, in our sole discretion, retain the right to remove individual posts or to revoke the access privileges of anyone who we believe has violated any of these terms or any other term of this agreement; however, we are under no obligation to do so.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

 

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.