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Environment and Energy

Momentum building for push to ban new forms of oil production in Santa Barbara County

Flickr member DieselDemon

An effort to ban new forms of petroleum production in the unincorporated areas of Santa Barbara County is gaining momentum and getting support from at least one other organization.

Santa Barbara County Water Guardians is working to collect 13,200 signatures by May 7 to qualify The Healthy Air and Water Initiative to Ban Fracking for the November 4, 2014 ballot.

If passed by voters, the initiative would target newer forms of oil and gas extraction, including fracking. 

The Fund for Santa Barbara, a non-profit community foundation that supports grassroots organizations with a focus on environmental issues—among other causes—has issued a $3000 grant to support the group's initiative efforts.

"What they needed from us was some assistance with paying the costs of doing it well," said The Fund for Santa Barbara Executive Director Geoff Green. "They've had to bring on attorneys to make sure the ballot language was going to work and to make sure they went through the process appropriately."

Those within the petroleum industry are understandably opposed to the effort. The California Independent Petroleum Association's CEO Rock Zierman says shutting down local production of oil and gas forces increased imports from the Middle East or rail shipments from North Dakota.

"Which alternative do the petition proponents suggest?" said Zierman. "We can’t replace 92 percent of our transportation fuels over night with alternative fuels that don’t exist."

Katie Davis with the Water Guardians says her group has already collected more than 7000 signatures and intends to go beyond the additional 6000 or so needed. "We're going for more signatures than that to make sure we have enough valid ones," Davis said.