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Feuding Ramps Up Over Ballot Measure

The November election is less than two months away but one measure is already kicking up controversy: Measure P.

If approved, the Santa Barbara County Fracking Ban Initiative would prohibit so-called “high intensity” oil and gas operations: fracking, acid well stimulation treatments or acidizing, and cyclic steam injection.

The measure would not stop conventional drilling or “low intensity” operations.

Supporters of Measure P call themselves “Water Guardians” and gathered Monday on the steps of the county courthouse, months after collecting 16,000 valid signatures to put the initiative on the November ballot.

Assemblyman Das Williams, who supports the measure, said if voters pass the legislation it will ban three techniques that are “new, dangerous and pose real risks for our county.”

“These folks who are saying that it’s safe are the same folks who told us before the Platform A blow-out in the 60s .. that offshore drilling was safe,” said Williams.

Opponents call the measure “poorly designed.”

Several miles away on upper State St., less than a handful of No on P supporters were at their headquarters, anxious to get their side across to the media.

“The method that they’re against or a lot of the methods they’re against have been going on in SB Co since 1960’s,” said Jim Thomas, former sheriff of Santa Barbara County. “And have done so safely and effectively. More importantly, the funding that comes from that goes to our schools, our public safety and to the county general fund.”

Santa Barbara County Supervisor Steve Lavagino released a statement criticizing today’s news conference, saying the economy of the county was too important for what he called “political games.”

Opponents claim if voters say yes to Measure P, all 1,200 wells would eventually be shut down, with devastating effects on the county’s economy.

Voters head to the polls November fourth.

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