Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

"The nation’s eyes are on us with this vote," says the Community Environment Council.  (Photo: Light Brigading/flickr/cc)

Big Oil Spending Millions to Kill Local Anti-Fracking Measure

Santa Barbara County the site of another David vs. Goliath fight in local initiatives

Fossil fuel energy companies have spent over $7.6 million to defeat a measure that would ban fracking in California's Santa Barbara County.

Measure P, which was brought forth by the Santa Barbara County Water Guardians, would ban "high-intensity petroleum operations," including fracking, acidizing and steam-injection methods.

Among those donating to the committee against the measure, Californians for Energy Independence, are Chevron, which contributed over $2.5 million, Occidental Petroleum Corporation, which gave $2 million, and Aera Energy, which donated over $2 million, as of October 6.

In contrast, the Yes on Measure P committee states that it has "raised about $300,000 from hundreds of mostly local individuals and volunteers including teachers, farmers, doctors, students, parents and other county residents." Those contributions are not posted by the California Secretary of State at this time.

Yes on P states that the vast industry spending makes the it "the most expensive local measure in the country."

Though the pro-ban group states that the majority of the over 1,000 active wells in the county do not use "high-intensity" extraction techniques, it says that old wells could be reworked to take advantage of such methods; in addition, the area sits on top of the Monterey Shale formation, where fracking or acidizing would be necessary.

Such extraction methods, Yes on P says, take scarce water resources, contribute to water pollution, air pollution, and greenhouse gases, and have been linked to increased seismic activity.

The Santa Barbara-based Community Environment Council, one of the supporters of Yes on P, states that in passing the measure, the county could serve as an example for the nation in how to work towards a clean energy future.

"As the site of the first major oil spill in the United States in 1969 – which galvanized the modern environmental movement – Santa Barbara has a real as well as symbolic role to play in rejecting the most destructive forms of fossil-fuel production, transitioning to clean energy, and creating a blueprint for other communities to follow," the groups states on its website.

"We can’t afford to fail," it continues.

"The failure of Measure P in Santa Barbara County would not only threaten Santa Barbara as a biodiversity hotspot and treasured region, it could also set back the climate change and anti-fracking movements statewide, nationally and even globally. The nation’s eyes are on us with this vote, as other communities face similar concerns," the group states.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
We need your help.

Support progressive journalism.

Common Dreams is not your average news site. We don't survive on clicks or advertising dollars. We rely entirely on your support. And without it, our independent progressive journalism simply wouldn’t exist. Every gift of every amount matters.

Join the fight and support our common dreams today.

Advocates Cheer VA Move to Offer Trans Vets Gender Confirmation Surgery

"Every veteran deserves to have access to the health care that they need, and the VA is working to make sure that includes transgender veterans as well."

Brett Wilkins, staff writer ·


'Bolsonaro Out!': Massive Protests as Brazil's Covid-19 Death Toll Tops 500,000

"We are on the street to defend our country, our people, our lives, our culture, our education, our economy. We can no longer die of Covid."

Brett Wilkins, staff writer ·


Summit Participants Embrace 'Vaccine Internationalism' to End Pandemic

"Our goal is simple: to end the pandemic as quickly as possible by securing Covid-19 vaccines for all," says the coordinator of Progressive International's four-day virtual summit.

Brett Wilkins, staff writer ·


As Iran Elects New President, Experts Urge Biden to Rejoin Nuclear Deal, Lift Sanctions

"The Biden administration must remain resolute and seek a break from the disastrous conditions that helped contribute to this result."

Brett Wilkins, staff writer ·


UN General Assembly Condemns Myanmar Junta Violence, Urges Arms Embargo

Member nations voted 119-1 in favor of the resolution, which also calls for a return to the country's fragile democracy.

Brett Wilkins, staff writer ·