SLO County residents debate banning fracking, oil wells on the Central Coast
Measure G, which bans fracking and prohibits expansion of onshore oil development in the unincorporated county, is a small step, but it’s a way to begin to wean ourselves from fossil fuels.
It also sends a strong message that we must invest in other resources.
That was brought home with fresh urgency by the recent U.N. report on climate change, which concluded that if we don’t shift course rapidly, by 2040 there will be a worsening of food shortages and wildfires, and a mass die-off of coral reefs.
Do we really want our kids and our grandkids to inherit such a hellish world?
Of course not, and that argument trumps all others.
While we could give you a laundry list of concerns about fracking or cite the number and severity of oil spills that have occurred here, such information pales in significance compared to threats posed by climate change. (And no, we’re not going to engage in a debate over whether climate change is real, because despite what the White House may say, we already are seeing its effects.)
We wish Measure G weren’t necessary, that the entire nation — or at the very least, the state of California — could come up with a comprehensive and immediate plan to phase out fossil fuel, without going through this county-by-county, piecemeal process.
But here’s a reality check: We can’t even agree that off-shore wind turbines are a good thing, out of fear that they may interfere with the visual enjoyment of our precious coastline. At this rate, do we really expect to see significant change any time soon?
Keep in mind, too, that if Measure G passes, there could still be a years-long court battle ahead.
County officials are almost certain the oil industry will file a lawsuit that could wind up costing upwards of $1 million to defend.
Then there’s the matter of private property rights. Owners of mineral rights could argue that a ban on new oil development would constitute an unlawful “taking” of their property. Because unlike landowners, who could build on their property even if oil development were prohibited, owners of mineral rights would be out of luck.
In other words, the legal battle over oil development could be just beginning. But it’s a battle that will have to be fought, sooner or later.
It’s time to rip off the Band-aid and take stand here in San Luis Obispo County, with the hope and expectation that will lead to a more comprehensive strategy to phase out fossil fuels elsewhere.
It’s not going to be easy, and it will involve sacrifice on all our parts.
But again, our kids are worth it.
The Tribune urges a yes vote on Measure G.