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Supervisors Place Fracking Ban on Ballot
updated: Jun 13, 2014, 8:45 PM

Source: Santa Barbara County Water Guardians

The Santa Barbara County Water Guardians are pleased to announce that the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors voted today unanimously to place their Initiative to Ban High-Intensity Petroleum Operations on the November 2014 ballot. The Water Guardians had gathered approximately 16,000 valid signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot, which is 3,000 more than were needed. 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 Board of Supervisors also declined to receive and file the "Impact Report on Initiative to Ban "High Intensity Petroleum Operations,'" which the Board had earlier ordered to analyze the effects of the measure. Board members expressed concern that the Report did not correctly describe the scope of the Initiative by claiming that the measure would somehow ban routine maintenance of wells. They noted that this interpretation was at odds with the plain language and purpose of the Initiative.

Board members also criticized the Report for not addressing the positive effect the Initiative would have on the environment. The Report neglected to discuss, for example, the proposed ban's beneficial impacts on air and water quality, as well as the negative costs associated with these types of oil drilling. As members of the public testified, research is growing that demonstrates the potential dangers associated with extreme oil well stimulation techniques, particularly with regard to increasing air pollution and leaking toxic chemicals into groundwater supplies.

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, existing oil operations and traditional oil drilling practices, including well maintenance, would be allowed to continue in the County.

Water Guardians were thrilled that the Initiative has been placed on the ballot and gratified by the Board's decision not to accept the erroneous Report. "This is the end result of hundreds of volunteers working tirelessly to qualify this initiative for the ballot," said Rebecca August of the Water Guardians. "We thank these volunteers and all those who appeared today before the Board of Supervisors."


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