Friday, August 17 , 2018, 3:29 am | Fair 68º


Letter to the Editor: Environmental Groups Oppose Drilling Proposal

Four major local environmental groups — the Environmental Defense Center, the Community Environmental Council, Get Oil Out! and Santa Barbara County Action Network — together representing more than 120 years of activism to protect the quality of Santa Barbara County’s environment, have joined together to express their opposition to a proposed letter from Santa Barbara County to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger favoring increased oil exploration and extraction offshore California.

“Only a year ago, this same board reaffirmed our county’s long-standing support of the federal leasing moratorium,” said Linda Krop, chief counsel for the EDC, which has led the legal fight against oil drilling in the Santa Barbara Channel for more than 30 years. “And only a month ago, the governor, to whom this letter is addressed, said clearly that he continues to support the moratorium. This action is not about the interests of Santa Barbara or California, but about rhetoric and positioning in a national political campaign. The future of Santa Barbara should not be sacrificed for a good campaign sound bite, especially for a policy which will have little or no impact on gas prices or reducing imports of foreign oil.”

“The suggestion that somehow drilling for oil will be good for our environment by reducing oil and gas seeps is simply bad science,” said Abraham Powell, president of GOO!, also formed just months after the 1969 spill. “Even the authors of the one study that suggested this might be possible have repudiated its use.” GOO! has produced a fact sheet called “Offshore Seeps: The Facts.” GOO! warned the board that further oil drilling not only would result in local impacts, but also would exacerbate global climate change.

The proposed letter credits increased oil development as providing a beneficial effect on the state and local budgetary crisis. However, “[e]ven the federal Energy Information Administration says increased drilling will have an ‘insignificant’ impact on oil prices, even by 2030,” said Tam Hunt, energy program director for the CEC, which was formed in 1970 in response to the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill. “Our nation should be investing our time, energy and creativity into real solutions that put us on the right path, toward renewable energy solutions for our future. Our region shouldn’t be known for chasing after yesterday’s energy solutions, but for leadership toward the renewable energy solutions of today and tomorrow.”

“The board report, signed by Supervisors Firestone and Centeno, talks mostly about the possibility of increased property tax revenue from more offshore leases,” said Deborah Brasket, executive director of SBCAN. “But the local economic impact of another oil spill on tourism, fishing and other ocean dependent industries in our communities would be devastating and would cause much more significant harm than some speculative income in yet unknown leases. Offshore oil drilling is not the panacea touted by the oil industry, but yet another ploy to prolong our dependence on oil, and delay the development of
renewable energy.”

Betsy Weber represents the Environmental Defense Center.

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