Recently, our Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors and a majority of my colleagues decided to send a letter to Sacramento in support of state Senate Bill 467, co-authored by state Sens. Monique Limón, D-Santa Barbara, and Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco.

Bob Nelson

Bob Nelson

Supervisor Steve Lavagnino and I refused to support the motion or sign the letter, as it seeks to undermine a long-standing industry in Santa Barbara County, and one on which all residents depend.

If passed, this bill would effectively terminate more than 90 percent of all onshore oil production throughout California and result in the loss of more than 2,000 head-of-household jobs here locally.

Moreover, many of these jobs are based in the North County and held by minorities, highlighting the continued struggle to find balance in a bifurcated county in which north and south have two different ways of life and sets of priorities.

One issue with sending a letter of support regarding SB 467 is that it bears a striking resemblance to Santa Barbara County’s Measure P, a countywide ballot initiative that was overwhelmingly defeated by voters in 2014. By supporting SB 467, we, as elected officials, are not acting as public servants on behalf of those whom we represent. The people of Santa Barbara County have already voiced their opinion on this issue, and the results have been made clear.

Our residents and voters understand that the oil industry continues to be an essential part of our daily lives, and a necessary partner as we make the transition to alternative fuels and attempt to satisfy the goals set forth by a homogenous Legislature.

For instance, then-Gov. Jerry Brown admitted the help of the oil industry would be critical when he signed an executive order in 2018 declaring that California would be carbon neutral by 2045.

Although I may disagree with the order or the feasibility of the policy, Brown is not incorrect in that statement. Our state and county do need the help of the oil industry if we are going to accomplish this goal, and we cannot put it out of business in the process.

When Brown made his statement, I assume he was referring to carbon capture utilization and storage, or CCUS, a method of trapping and storing carbon dioxide released during oil extraction. This modern technology allows for carbon emissions during the oil extraction process to be mitigated and stored underground.

Whether you are a member of the oil industry, the Democratic Party or a conservative, there is a consensus: it will benefit our environment and is necessary to accomplish this goal.

In the modern news cycle and political climate, reality is often lost and idealism wins the day. The reality is that SB 467 would put thousands of minorities out of work, increases our dependence on foreign oil from countries like Russia, and completely undermines the environmental values our county has set forth.

There is a path forward and, for the sake of North County residents and job creators in our community, I hope that path includes common sense and compromise.

Supervisor Bob Nelson represents the Fourth District on the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors and serves as this year’s board chairman. The opinions expressed are his own.