Caldwell: The oil spill in proper perspective

Last week I drove to San Luis Obispo to give a speech. On the way I passed Refugio Beach, the zero point for the pipeline oil spill. Lots of cops and activities, though the ocean did not seem to have a lot of problems. The good news is that previous spills were thousands of times bigger had no long term affect on the wildlife, the fish or the community. .That does not mean we should not be more careful in the transmission of oil. On the other hand we should not close down gas stations, ban cars or force everyone to become farmers just because of an incident.

“The second point is that the local environmental community and our county supervisors can’t have it both ways. They can’t claim to be concerned about the greenhouse gas emissions from the industry and the potential for spills along our coastline while ignoring altogether the fact that our coastline is home to the second largest source of naturally occurring oil and gas leaks in the world. Pollution is pollution, no matter where it comes from. These seeps foul our waters and the emissions from the same are equal to all the emissions from all the vehicles on the 101 freeway every day, the largest source of greenhouse gas in the region.”

When will the Santa Barbara Board of Supervisors ban nature—that would be the obvious step to take if they are opposed to oil spills. Silly people.

Borderbeachtj

Editorial : Guest Opinion: The oil spill in proper perspective

Andy Caldwell, Santa Barbara News Press, 5/21/15

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors drove a stake into the heart of the North County oil industry. They did so by singling out the industry for disparate treatment with respect to required mitigation and offsets having to do with greenhouse gas emissions. All the while, the Board of Supervisors saw fit to exempt all of their own operations from the same rigorous requirements. These exempt county projects include the continued operation of the county’s Tajiguas landfill and the new North County jail. It is relatively easy to prove how concerned you are about greenhouse gases as long as somebody else is paying the bill.

During the course of the hearing, we all became aware of the fact that an oil spill had occurred that day on our beautiful coastline. Any time such a spill occurs, it is of course a tragedy for all concerned. However, it also becomes a crisis to exploit for some. In response to the leak, some of the oil industry antagonists in the county called for an end to fracking, even though fracking had nothing to do with this incident.

I have three comments to make here. First, accidents do happen. I will be interested to know whether the safety measures that are in place to detect pipeline breaks worked to minimize the spill? That is to say, did alarms go off, indicating a loss of pressure in the pipelines? Did the flow get shut off as soon as possible? And, finally, did the company in charge of this onshore pipeline implement emergency response procedures in a timely manner? The subsequent investigation into this incident will answer these questions and hopefully serve to minimize the impacts of similar accidents in the future.

The second point is that the local environmental community and our county supervisors can’t have it both ways. They can’t claim to be concerned about the greenhouse gas emissions from the industry and the potential for spills along our coastline while ignoring altogether the fact that our coastline is home to the second largest source of naturally occurring oil and gas leaks in the world. Pollution is pollution, no matter where it comes from. These seeps foul our waters and the emissions from the same are equal to all the emissions from all the vehicles on the 101 freeway every day, the largest source of greenhouse gas in the region.

This inconvenient elephant in the room covered in tar and belching out methane gas speaks volumes to living in denial. The fact is, the local industry has a relatively stellar safety record. And, relatedly, the truth is that the more oil and gas we allow them to pump out of the formations off our coast means that much less pollution from natural seepage occurring day in and day out.

Finally, cutting production here locally does nothing to ease consumption. As consumers, we must share the risk as well as the rewards integral to our lifestyle of abundance. Anything less smacks of unconscionable consumer greed and exploitation.

Andy Caldwell is the executive director of COLAB and host of the Andy Caldwell Show, weekdays from 3-5 p.m., on News-Press Radio AM 1290.

About Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.