Santa Barbara County has always been known as a leader in environmental activism. The local get-oil-out faction has convinced some elected officials to all but ban fossil-fuel production in a county that has vast energy reserves just beneath our feet.
They have crafted and used “save the environment” regulations to stymy oil production while waiving those same rules to favor “green energy” projects. For example, regulators conclude that fossil fuel production and processing projects will “irreparably harm the environment” if they are built.
However, when green energy projects, such as wind turbines that kill scores of endangered birds or solar projects that alter multi-acre plots by shading the earth and interrupting the growth of the natural habitat containing endangered plants, they abandon those principles.
To do this they cite “overriding considerations,” meaning the green energy project is more important than the critters it kills and flora and fauna it eliminates.
Their theoretical goal of eliminating the use of fossil fuels has proven untenable when tried in other countries.
The German government, persuaded by equally inspired and funded environmental activists all but eliminated the use of fossil fuels in favor of wind/solar power over the last couple of decades. While they were successful at achieving their initial goal, their overall policy has proven catastrophic because so-called renewable energy projects couldn’t keep the country running.
Now, since Germany is no longer self-sufficient, the newly formed government decided in less than a week that they must ramp up the use of coal, LNG, and other fossil fuels so they can stop paying the Russians for fuel, which is used to fund their war against the innocent citizens of Ukraine.
The current administration in Washington cut off purchases of Russian oil to help stop Russian aggression, too; it was the right thing to do. To make up for it, they are pushing their green agenda with renewed vigor. It is leading to a substantial increase in gasoline/diesel cost to every citizen of our country due to the reduced fuel supply.
They also claim that turning on the U.S. supply will take months — remember it only took one hour following the 2021 inauguration to shut it off, therefore it should only take an hour to turn it back on.
Not taking action to increase internal supply will crush those on fixed incomes, low- and middle-income families, farmers, truckers and workers as factories close and their cost-of-living increases to untenable levels just to get to work due to the lack of reliable, lower cost energy sources.
And the Biden administration claim that the oil industry has thousands of leases but refuses to produce oil to keep prices up is a fraud. Why, because even though they have leases, the government refuses to issue the permits necessary to extract and transport the crude oil.
To make my point, in our county last Tuesday three members of the Board of Supervisors (BOS) denied a trucking permit for an oil producer, again proving that environmental elitists dictate a misguided energy policy in this county.
Previously the BOS, led by supervisors from Districts 1, 2 and 3 have denied every oil project in the county for the last several years.
Supervisors Joan Hartmann, Gregg Hart and Das Williams apparently don’t care about the working poor of this county; they only care about pandering to a poorly thought out green energy agenda. Thus, they have contributed to the soaring cost of gasoline and diesel.
In Santa Barbara County it would only take aggressive action by the BOS to restart oil exploration, extraction and transportation. Oil industry representatives are on record saying it would take days, not months to begin producing oil again.
Considering the current BOS majority, don’t hold your breath waiting for this to happen. In the meantime, the plight of the working poor and folks on fixed incomes will only worsen.
How do we solve this problem? There is an election coming up, and we should support candidates, specifically in the 3rd District, who will make commitments to work for the people who keep this county running and not special interests who clearly do not care whether you survive or not.
— Ron Fink, a Lompoc resident since 1975, is retired from the aerospace industry. He has been following Lompoc politics since 1992, and after serving for 23 years appointed to various Lompoc commissions, retired from public service. The opinions expressed are his own.