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Valid Signatures for Fracking Ban Vote
updated: May 15, 2014, 12:00 PM

Source: Santa Barbara County Water Guardians

The Santa Barbara County Water Guardians today officially announced that the group has collected enough valid signatures to qualify a proposed ban on fracking for a public vote. Earlier this week, the Santa Barbara County Registrar of Voters concluded that approximately 16,000 County voters signed the petition, which is 3,000 more than needed to qualify for placement on the ballot. If passed, the initiative would ban fracking, cyclic steam injection, and other forms of extreme oil well stimulation in the unincorporated areas of Santa Barbara County.

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors now has the option of either voting the initiative into law directly or presenting the issue to voters on the November 2014 ballot. The Board also may elect to order a report on the impact of the initiative.

"This is the result of hundreds of volunteers working tirelessly to qualify this initiative for the ballot," said Corrie Ellis of the Santa Barbara County Water Guardians. "This represents more than 3,000 hours of volunteer effort in just three weeks, which shows the strength of community support for this initiative."

Research is growing around the potential dangers associated with extreme oil well stimulation techniques, particularly with regard to increasing air pollution and leaking toxic chemicals into groundwater supplies. These techniques also increase greenhouse gas emissions, which are linked to climate change.

"Farming is my way of life. I've farmed here for over 40 years, and I hope that my land will be farmed for generations to come," said local farmer Tom Shepherd. "If we are to protect our way of life in Santa Barbara County, we need to focus on long-term economic prosperity. The oil companies are pushing hard to create a short-term fracking bubble that will leave our landscapes scarred and our resources damaged. If we want our children and grandchildren to thrive in this region, we must focus on sustainable practices that preserve our clean air and clean water. A ban on fracking in this region can't come soon enough, and that is why I am a proud proponent of this initiative."

The initiative would prohibit land uses related to fracking, cyclic steam injection and other high-intensity petroleum operations within unincorporated sections of the Santa Barbara County. It aims to protect the County's air, water, and health in light of a planned expansion of these practices by oil companies. If the initiative becomes law, traditional oil drilling practices would be allowed to continue in the County.

"I can't farm without access to clean water," added farmer John Kiddie of Lompoc. "There are simply too many unknowns associated with fracking and other extreme oil extraction techniques. We need to stop these practices now, before they pollute our limited water supply. I hope the Board of Supervisors will recognize how much support there is for this measure and vote to enact it as soon as possible. We don't want to wait until November to see fracking phased out in Santa Barbara County."

As oil companies plan to expand the use of high-intensity petroleum operations to extract oil and gas from the Monterey Shale and other formations across Santa Barbara County, public concerns grow. Chemicals involved in many of these operations are associated with serious health problems such as cancer and birth defects. The increased emission of air pollutants has been tied to a greater risk of respiratory illnesses like asthma and reduced agricultural yields. The threatened proliferation of new wells also threatens the County's famed scenic vistas, robust tourism industry and quality of life.

"We owe the Santa Barbara County Water Guardians a debt of gratitude for getting this initiative on the ballot," noted Dick Weinberg, former mayor of Carpinteria. "To even think about injecting hazardous chemicals through our aquifers and squandering millions of gallons of water in the process is ridiculous. The profits of oil companies in no way trump the quality of the air and water in the Santa Barbara County."

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors is expected to review the initiative at its May 20th meeting, when the Registrar of Voters presents its certification of signatures.

Supporters of the initiative are invited to take part in "Hands Across the Sand/Land" this Saturday, May 17th, at Stearns Wharf. Participants will join hands forming a line across the beach as one of hundreds of synchronized events taking place across the country and around the world, to raise awareness about the dangers of dirty fuels and the need to speed the transition to available, affordable clean energy solutions.


Related Articles:

  • May 1, 2014: Fracking Ban is on November Ballot
  • March 19, 2014: Initiative Filed to Ban Fracking
  • October 16, 2014: EDC Provides Fracking Details


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