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Sunday, December 9 , 2018, 4:05 pm | Fair 66º


Letter to the Editor: Measure P Is a Step Toward Better Health, Environment

I have practiced family medicine in both the Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Maria for the past 15 years. Daily, I diagnose our family, friends and neighbors with various types of cancers, degenerative neurologic conditions, hormonal disruption, respiratory problems — the list and the poor prognoses go on and on. Families are forever and instantly changed.

I am often asked, “How can this happen to me? I have no family history, I don’t smoke, I exercise, I eat only organic food yet I developed (add any horrible diagnosis here).” We have so many toxins and carcinogens in our environment causing mutations in our DNA, mimicking hormones, damaging cell membranes and further injuring us in unseen ways.

There is plenty of pollution in and around Santa Barbara County. We have our very own superfund site in Casmalia, other cleanup sites such as the Veneco/Chevron Carpinteria Oil and Gas Processing Facility, and Chevron’s Guadalupe Oil Field Contamination in neighboring Nipomo Dunes. High levels of ozone from burning fossil fuels hover in our atmosphere, trapped by our topography, and our creeks, rivers and aquifers have been polluted by agricultural and human waste. There are days that it is unhealthy to swim in our beautiful oceans and breathe our air.

Measure P is a grassroots movement. It is “We the People” saying that we do not want even more pollution degrading our lives. Measure P will protect us from the making of overt pollution for profit at our expense — a planned marked increase in high intensity oil drilling, like fracking, which poses multiple extreme risks to our health and environment, risks which are well-documented where these techniques are in use across the nation.

I love to drive my car. I love to fly on airplanes. I love next day delivery. I like that Venoco, the company mentioned above, catches much of the naturally seeping tar in the channel and uses it instead of it winding up on the bottoms of my feet after a day at the beach. I have made money with oil company stocks, but that does not mean that I approve of severe environmental devastation, or permanent toxicity to groundwater and unbreathable air, especially right here where I have chosen to live and practice. Measure P only affects new wells that would employ these new high-intensity techniques, and does not interfere with conventional oil drilling, existing injection wells, the global oil market, or the price of gasoline. I can still drive my car.

The only people who will suffer from the passage of Measure P are investment bankers and venture capitalists who live far away from the county — even overseas. Measure P is a step towards our local communities making real progress on the War on Cancer, defending our right to a home that does not threaten our wellness, and is a stand against the sacrifice of our environment and subsequent health to outside interests.

Please vote yes on Measure P.

Dr. Kevin Beckmen

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