In the year 2015 alone:
- Our beaches were fouled by the Refugio Oil Spill on May 19th.
- Eleven of our federally protected aquifers were injected with toxic oil waste water.
- Oil spilled into the streets in a neighborhood in Orcutt and continues to seep from the ground near pressurized wells.
- Truck traffic has increased, and the industrialization of our rural landscapes is more and more apparent.
- Hundreds of permits to drill new steam injection and steam flooding oil wells have been submitted.
The total number of oil wells in Santa Barbara County will soon double, as will their impacts on our health, air, and water.
We can see what's coming. Neighboring counties and states are further down this road we're on. Extreme oil extraction (cyclic steam injection, steam flooding, thermally enhanced extraction, fracking, etc.) causes ground and surface water contamination, massive increases in earthquakes, air pollution, and chemical and oil fires. It has also proven to be concurrent with a higher incidence of asthma, cancer, and birth defects.
The oil industry is especially susceptible to boom and bust cycles. In a boom, businesses that once sustained a community can fold under the pressure of rising costs of water and other commodities. Santa Barbara County's biggest employers are the agriculture, tourism, and wine industries. These businesses will be hurt if our county becomes polluted and over industrialized by oil development. When wells dry up or the price of oil crashes, the new money and oil jobs will disappear. Many of the businesses that sustain us now will be gone, and communities will be left with devalued land, depleted and contaminated resources, and lingering health effects.
The oil industry self-regulates, self-monitors, and is responsible for reporting its mistakes and accidents. Our government agencies have failed to enforce, or even follow, their own rules. New State and County fracking legislation does not include the extreme extraction methods (cyclic steam injection and steam flooding) used in our county, even though they cause more air pollution, and carries similar, if not a greater risk to human health and ground water.
Injection and flooding use tremendous quantities of water, 20 million gallons a day in California, at least 10% of it, fresh. Once water is used for oil extraction, it is too toxic for any other use and must be disposed of. Oil waste is commonly dumped underground, in or near oil wells, or in other aquifers. This re-injected waste water can migrate into clean drinking-water aquifers over time, making them toxic. Our county is prone to drought. We cannot afford to destroy water for any reason.
Oil waste injection wells cause earthquakes. The injected wastewater counteracts the frictional forces on faults and "pries them apart," according to the USGS.
Stopping unsafe energy production while encouraging the growth of safer, and inexhaustible energy in our county:
- Ensures better health for our families, and our families' families
- Protects our water
- Encourages a secure economy
- Creates safe jobs and protects thriving businesses
- Preserves our county's ability to attract people and businesses
- Reduces greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming