Santa Barbara County Fracking Ban Initiative, Measure P (November 2014)
|Voting on Fracking|
|Not on ballot
- 1 Support
- 2 Opposition
- 3 Reports and analyses
- 4 Background
- 5 Path to the ballot
- 6 Similar measures
- 7 See also
- 8 External links
- 9 Additional reading
- 10 References
If approved, this measure would prohibit what are called "high intensity" oil and gas operations such as fracking, acid well stimulation treatments and cyclic steam injection. The measure would not impede conventional drilling or "low intensity" operations. The group called the Santa Barbara County Water Guardians filed its initiative and a notice of intent to circulate with the Santa Barbara County Registrar on March 23, 2014, and planned to officially kick off the petition drive at an event on April 5, 2014. They needed 13,200 valid signatures before May 7, 2014, to qualify the initiative for the November ballot. On May 1, 2014, the group turned in about 20,000 signatures. Out of the 20,000, the Santa Barbara County Elections Office found 16,000 signatures to be valid. On June 13, 2014, the Santa Barbara County Supervisors voted unanimously to put the initiative on the November ballot, rather than enacting it directly.
The group behind the initiative is called the Santa Barbara County Water Guardians.
The San Francisco-based Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger LLP law firm drafted the initiative language. This firm was also responsible for the text of the initiative currently being circulated in San Benito County.
Other supporters of the initiative include:
- Community Environmental Council (CEC)
- Sierra Club (Santa Barbara Group, Los Padres Chapter & Sierra Club California)
- Environmental Defense Center (EDC)
- System Change Not Climate Change (Santa Barbara Chapter)
- Get Oil Out! (GOO)
- Santa Barbara County Action Network (SBCAN)
- Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice SB chapter
- Santa Barbara Citizens Planning Association
- Carpinteria Valley Association
- Summerland Citizens Association
- Santa Ynez Valley Alliance
- League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)
- Nurses for Social Responsibility
- UCSB Environmental Affairs Board
- 350 Santa Barbara
- Center for Biological Diversity
- Food & Water Watch
- Das Williams (CA State Assembly)
- Cathy Murillo (SB City Council)
- Democratic Party of Santa Barbara County
Arguments in favor
Proponents of the measure argue that fracking and other high intensity oil extraction methods have dangerous and harmful side effects such as:
- wasting precious water needed by California
- potentially causing earthquakes
- polluting water sources and air
- chemical side effects inimical to the health of county residents and animals
Rebecca Claassen, a member of the Santa Barbara County Water Guardians, said, “Using these technologies, the petroleum industry would gain increased access to oil resources lying below our homes, farms and natural areas. The impacts and risks associated with high-intensity petroleum operations are too great for Santa Barbara County residents to accept. In order to protect local resources and interests, we want to prohibit this land use before it further endangers human health and the environment in Santa Barbara County.”
—Rebecca August, initiative supporter and petition circulator
- Santa Maria Energy
Bob Poole, a spokesperson for Santa Maria Energy, claimed that the initiative proposed by the Water Guardians is just an attempt to curtail oil production and is not actually about fracking. He pointed towards California Senate Bill 4, statewide legislation on oil extraction practices, as the best way to address the contentious issue. Poole, referring to the Water Guardians, said, “Good decision making should be based on objective facts and science. They need to follow the science-based approach the governor and the state of California are taking on this issue, there is a scientific study underway … why don’t they get behind that instead of trying to jump ahead of science?”
Andy Caldwell of the Coalition for Labor, Agriculture and Business spoke extensively against the initiative, both responding to arguments from proponents and speaking about its potential harm to the economy. He made the following statements:
—Andy Caldwell of the Coalition for Labor, Agriculture and Business
Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association, said, "Any reduction in domestic oil production here means more dependence on foreign oil. We should be looking for ways to encourage more domestic production of oil and jobs that go with it rather than passing laws that reduce our domestic energy production.”
- The Lompoc Record released an editorial condemning Measure P as an anti-oil, industry-crippling initiative masquerading as simply an anti-fracking measure. An excerpt of what the Lompoc Record editorial board wrote is below:
Indeed, if voters pass Measure P, it would set up the case for an outright ban on the hydraulic fracturing method of extracting petroleum products from deep under ground.
But passage of Measure P would also do quite a lot more, and while its supporters aren’t saying a lot about those other impacts of passing Measure P, we feel morally and ethically compelled to shed some light on such a blanket prohibition.
Briefly stated, passing Measure P would have devastating effects on the local economy. Because it’s not just a ban on fracking, but on all other forms of enhanced oil extraction, now widely and safely used in oil development.
Measure P clearly is an attempt to misrepresent the reality of a situation, and typical of so many recent ballot initiatives, claims to do one thing while actually doing something else entirely.
Don’t fall for it. The oil industry has been active in this county for generations, and there have been mistakes. But the technology is vastly improved, the risks to the environment diminished — and Santa Barbara County needs this important segment of the economy to remain viable.
—Lompoc Record editorial board
Reports and analyses
The University of California Santa Barbara Economic Forecast Project undertook a study of the economic impact of onshore oil and natural gas extraction in Santa Barbara County for the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce in 2013. Using a type of economic forecasting known as IMPLAN modeling, the study measured the impacts of fossil fuel extraction in Santa Barbara County. Studies that use IMPLAN modeling usually measure both direct impacts, i.e. the jobs and income being added within the oil and gas industry; indirect impacts, i.e. jobs created throughout the supply chain; and induced impacts, i.e. jobs created through increased spending due to growth in the industry. The study found that:
- While the industry is a small contributor to overall county employment, the average employee's salary ranges from $75,000 to $100,000.
- The industry contributes $1.13 million to 240 nonprofits across the county annually.
- In 2011, the industry had an economic impact of $103 to $142 per barrel of oil produced.
- The total economic impact, including direct, indirect and induced impacts was $291.4 million in 2011.
- The industry pays $49.2 million in federal, state and local taxes annually.
According to the study, the oil and natural gas industry, "has a significant impact on Santa Barbara County’s economy through its purchases of intermediate inputs, investment in new structures and equipment, and employment within the county."
Bonnie Queen, one of the analysts who worked on the report, stated that, according to data provided directly by the companies, the number of direct employees for oil and gas businesses amounted to 336. This represents 0.1 percent of the approximately 250,000 jobs in the county.
The reported impacts of $291.4 million represent 1.64 percent of the county's total GDP of approximately $17.75 billion in 2011.
The Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation: The Western States Petroleum Association commissioned the Los Angeles Development Corporation to conduct a study on the gas and oil industry in California, including several subregions. The LAEDC study concluded that the petroleum industry on the Central Coast is a substantial source of jobs and an economy-boosting element. However, the study used very broad metrics for calculating the economic impact. the report states, "The total estimated economic contribution includes direct, indirect and induced effects." Oil and gas industry "workers, as well as the employees of all the industry's suppliers, spend a portion of their incomes on groceries, rent, vehicle expenses, healthcare, entertainment, and so on. The recirculation of the original expenditures multiplies the initial spending through these indirect and induced effects." The report featured the following conclusions:
—Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation
The study considered not only oil and gas extraction and transportation, but also retail sales of gasoline at gas stations when calculating jobs, tax revenues and economic impacts. As it is unlikely that the initiative would have any substantial impact on sales on gasoline in the county, these jobs, tax revenues and economic impacts should be unaffected by the ban.
- See also: Fracking in California
The process of fracking is under heavy scrutiny in California. The 2014 California Democratic Party Platform called for an immediate moratorium on fracking, a position not supported by California's Governor Jerry Brown. Fracking has been occurring in California for more than 30 years.
Native Americans are the first recorded group to have collected oil in California. The first oil company began mining and distilling oil in 1856, and, in 1950, California produced 331 million barrels of oil. Several large natural gas fields were found throughout the 1970s and 1980s. The Monterey Shale formation in California is expected to hold 15.4 billion barrels of oil, or 65 percent of the technically recoverable shale oil in the lower 48 states, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
To the right is a map of all the oil and gas wells in Santa Barbara County as of May 8, 2014. A black star denotes an area of oil and gas well activity. There is a large cluster of oil and gas wells in northwest Santa Barbara County, a small cluster in the northeastern portion of the county, and at least one well offshore the coast of the county.
The Department of Conservation's Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) oversees oil and gas development in California. Water resources are regulated by the Regional Water Quality Control Boards (RWQCB) and the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB). According to the DOGGR, most of the oil and gas production in California is happening using vertical wells that are drilled into traditional oil and natural gas reservoirs. The DOGGR regulates well casings, cements and the other aspects of protecting underground and surface water resources. Under current law the DOGGR does not need to be notified when a well is fractured. In 2013 the California State Legislature passed Senate Bill 4, regulating well stimulation, which includes fracking and other activities. Senate Bill 4 requires interim well regulations that are now in effect, a separate set of regulations that go into effect in 2015, the adoption of environmental impact reports in 2015 and well stimulation permits. These permits are publicly available on the DOGGR's website.
Path to the ballot
In Santa Barbara County, if sufficient signatures are submitted, an initiative ordinance may be enacted by the county supervisors. If they choose not to enact the ordinance unaltered, it is sent to the ballot to let voters have the final decision.
The Santa Barbara Water Guardians, who are behind this initiative, had until May 7, 2014, to submit a minimum of 13,200 signatures to the Santa Barbara County Registrar of Voters. On May 1, 2014, the group turned in about 20,000 signatures. About 16,000 signatures were certified as valid, giving county supervisors the choice of either enacting the initiative or putting it on the November 4, 2014 election ballot. On June 13, 2014, the Santa Barbara Supervisors voted unanimously to put the measure on the ballot.
Rebecca Claassen of the Santa Barbara Water Guardians said, "We are encouraged by the high level of volunteer participation and enthusiastic public response to our efforts. Santa Barbara County residents get it: these extreme oil extraction techniques carry a much higher risk than the traditional pumping that has taken place in the county for decades. The trade-offs associated with fracking and cyclic steam injection are simply not worth gambling on when our limited water supplies are at risk."
- See also: Notable 2014 local measures
- City of Denton Fracking Ban Initiative (2014)
- City of Athens Fracking Ban Proposal Initiative (November 2014)
- City of Niles "Community Bill of Rights" Fracking Ban Initiative (November 2014)
- Butte County Fracking Ban Initiative (November 2014)
- Santa Barbara County Fracking Ban Initiative, Measure P (November 2014)
- San Benito County Fracking Ban Initiative (November 2014)
- Mendocino County Community Bill of Rights Fracking and Water Use Initiative (November 2014)
City of Loveland Two Year Fracking Suspension Initiative, Question 1 (June 2014)
Youngstown "Community Bill of Rights" Fracking Ban Charter Amendment (May 2014)
Johnson County Fracking Ban Referendum (March 2014)
- Local fracking on the ballot
- November 4, 2014 ballot measures in California
- Santa Barbara County, California ballot measures
- Santa Barbara Water Guardians website
- Santa Barbara Water Guardians Facebook page
- Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger LLP law firm website
- 350 Santa Barbara website
- System Change Not Climate Change (Santa Barbara Chapter) Facebook page
- KCOY 12 Fox 11, "SB County Anti-fracking Petition Drive Begins," April 7, 2014
- Noozhawk, "Group Pushes for Ballot Measure to Ban Fracking in Santa Barbara County," April 24, 2014
- Santa Barbara Independent, "Fracking Ban Critical for Climate," April 22, 2014
- The Santa Barbara Independent, "Sign Now to Ban Fracking," April 23, 2014
- Archived Santa Barbara Independent, "Santa Barbara County Water Guardians Files Initiative to Ban Fracking in Santa Barbara County," March 23, 2014
- Edhat Santa Barbara, "Fracking Ban is on November Ballot," May 1, 2014
- Lompoc Record, "Group kicks off petition for fracking ban initiative," March 20, 2014
- Edhat, "Supervisors Place Fracking Ban on Ballot," June 13, 2014
- Santa Barbara Water Guardians website, accessed June 20, 2014
- 350 Santa Barbara website, accessed March 31, 2014
- Western States Petroleum Association, "Oil and Gas in California: The Industry and Its Economic Contribution in 2012," April 2014
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- California Legislature website, California Senate Bill 4 information, accessed March 24, 2014
- Santa Maria Sun, "Local group files a voter initiative to ban fracking in Santa Barbara County," March 24, 2014
- KSBY, "Voters will decide fate of fracking in November," June 13, 2014
- Lompoc Record, "Don't be fooled by anti-oil Measure P," July 26, 2014, archived July 28, 2014
- PricewaterhouseCooper LLP, "Economic Impacts of the Oil and Natural Gas Industry on the US Economy 2011," July 2013
- University of California Santa Barbara Economic Forecast Project, "Santa Barbara Onshore Oil and Natural Gas Industry," September 2013
- Santa Barbara County Workforce Investment Board, "Santa Barbara County Industry Cluster Report," February 2012
- Berkeley Law, "Regulation of Hydraulic Fracturing in California: A Wastewater and Water Quality Perspective," April 2013
- Think Progress, "Fracking is Creating a Rift Between Governor Jerry Brown And Some California Democrats," March 13, 2014
- Environmental Engineering & Contracting, Inc., "A Brief History of Hydraulic Fracturing," accessed May 6, 2014
- California Department of Conservation, "California Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources: an Introduction," 1993
- U.S. Energy Information Administration, "Review of emerging resources: U.S. shale gas and shale oil plays," accessed May 6, 2014
- One barrel of oil produces about 19 gallons of gas U.S. Energy Information Administration, "Frequently Asked Questions," May 30, 2013, accessed March 18, 2014
- Department of Conservation, "Division of Oil, Gas, & Geothermal Resources Well Finder," accessed May 7, 2014
- Department of Conservation, "Hydraulic Fracturing in California," accessed May 7, 2014
- Department of Conservation, "Well Stimulation," accessed May 7, 2014