Friday, November 27 , 2015, 5:18 pm | Fair 57º

Posted on 08.27.2014 12:39 p.m.

Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce Opposes Measure P

Source: Chamber of Commerce of the Santa Barbara Region

At its meeting on Monday, the Board of Directors of the Chamber of Commerce of the Santa Barbara Region approved the following statement:

The Santa Barbara Region Chamber of Commerce urges its members to vote no on Measure P on the November ballot. This position was taken following two lengthy presentations to the chamber’s Government Relations Council from the proponents and opponents of Measure P. The GRC voted unanimously to recommend that the chamber oppose Measure P.

The chamber’s position is based on the following concerns:

» First: The ballot measure is written in a way that is likely to mislead voters. Its title says that it is a ban on “fracking.”

This is misleading for two reasons: There is no fracking in Santa Barbara County, and the ballot measure also prohibits many other forms of oil and gas extraction. A voter would have to read the entirety of the lengthy and complicated measure to understand that its impact is far greater than suggested by the title.

» Second: Measure P is not necessary or appropriate. It prohibits oil and gas production techniques that have been used safely and responsibly in Santa Barbara County for many decades. There is no significant evidence that these techniques — including using steam made from undrinkable water — are likely to cause adverse environmental or health impacts.

» Third: Measure P is likely to result in shutting down existing oil and gas operations in Santa Barbara County. An impartial analysis prepared by Santa Barbara County found that 100 percent of the active oil and gas wells currently use one or more of the production techniques prohibited by Measure P.

While the proponents of Measure P assert that existing oil and gas operations are not going to be closed, the ballot measure’s language does not support this claim. If the drafters of the measure intended to allow existing operations to continue, they could and should have included language clearly so stating. It is unfortunate that this major defect in the language of the ballot measure cannot be cured.

» Fourth: Measure P is likely to have a significant adverse impact on the local economy. The energy industry estimates that Measure P could result in a loss of $291 million to the local economy. More than a thousand jobs — mostly well-paid blue collar positions — would be lost. There is a ripple effect when an industry loses so many jobs, because the newly unemployed can no longer buy groceries, pay rent, buy clothes, and otherwise contribute to the local economy.

» Fifth: Measure P will have a significant impact on public services. The county’s impartial analysis found that in 2013 the county received $16.4 million in revenues from onshore oil and gas production. Of this amount, the schools received $10.2 million and fire services received $2.1 million. Legal experts — including Santa Barbara’s own county counsel — are predicting a great deal of litigation over Measure P, which will cost the county a great deal of money to defend. In addition, the county is facing substantial liability from the owners of mineral rights who have a legal right to claim that Measure P results in a “taking” of their property, thus entitling them to sue for damages. The county’s liability for damages and litigation expenses could exceed $100 million.

For more information on this position, please contact Ken Oplinger at 805.965.3023.

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