Expensive fight over anti-fracking Measure P in Santa Barbara County

Oct 16, 2014

Oil wells in nearby Kern County, where the fracking process is currently used.
Credit Flickr/Ben Klocek

The latest campaign finance figures from the California Secretary of State's office and the Santa Barbara County Clerk-Recorder show the battle over fracking is a costly one on the Central Coast. And, the contributors footing most of the bill are big oil companies.

This November's Measure P is designed to ban the use of high-intensity oil extraction methods—including fracking, acidizing, and steam injection—by future oil and gas projects on unincorporated Santa Barbara County land.

The "No on P" side is backed heavily by out-of-town energy corporations that have contributed several million dollars to fight the proposed ban. This total is in sharp contrast to the less than $300,000 raised by the measure's supporters.

The bulk of the "No" campaign money can be traced back to the group Californians for Energy Independence with contributions totaling $4 million dollars as of September 30, 2014. The Bay Area-based group has received more than $2.56 million from San Ramon-based Chevron Corporation, $2 million from Houston's Occidental Petroleum and more than $2.09 million from Aera Energy out of Bakersfield.

Much of the money on the "Yes" side has been in the form of numerous small donations contributed by Santa Barbara County residents. The top Measure P contributors through September include Richard Mazess of Santa Barbara (50,000), San Francisco-based Consumer Advocates for Safe Food and Water ($24,600) and Measure P Spokesperson Katherine Davis of Goleta ($10,826).