SB County Water Guardians File Initiative To Ban Fracking


For immediate release
March 18, 2014

Filing is first step to protect County residents’ health, environment and local resources City of Santa Barbara – Today, Santa Barbara County Water Guardians, a grassroots group of concerned local citizens, filed a notice of intent with the Santa Barbara County Registrar to circulate an initiative petition within the County of Santa Barbara to protect the County’s air, water, and health by prohibiting land uses related to fracking, cyclic steam injection and other high-intensity petroleum operations.

As oil companies plan to expand the use of high-intensity petroleum operations to extract oil and gas from the Monterey Shale and other formations across Santa Barbara County, public concerns grow. Chemicals involved in many of these operations are associated with serious health problems such as cancer and birth defects. The increased emission of air pollutants has been tied to a greater risk of asthma attacks and reduced agricultural yields. At the same time, the threatened proliferation of new wells threatens the County’s famed scenic vistas, robust tourism industry and quality of life.

Expanding high-intensity petroleum operations will also compete with agricultural and public uses for Santa Barbara County’s limited water supplies. With reports of groundwater contamination in four states related to these operations, Santa Barbara’s local farms and wineries could be devastated if a well casing fails or wastewater is mismanaged. Activities associated with these advanced drilling practices have also been linked to increased seismic activity, which is concerning for a County that sits on a number of active fault lines.

“Using these technologies, the petroleum industry would gain increased access to oil resources lying below our homes, farms and natural areas,” said Rebecca Claassen of Santa Barbara County Water Guardians. “The impacts and risks associated with high-intensity petroleum operations are too great for Santa Barbara County residents to accept.

In order to protect local resources and interests, we want to prohibit this land use before it further endangers human health and the environment in Santa Barbara County.”

The initiative will protect the health and environment of Santa Barbara County by amending the Santa Barbara County Comprehensive Plan and related codes to prohibit the use of any land within the County’s unincorporated area for fracking and other high-intensity petroleum operations. The initiative includes provisions to protect vested rights and constitutionally protected property rights.

Upon the County Registrar’s certification that proponents have secured the requisite number of signatures on the petition, the Board of Supervisors can elect to adopt the initiative or put the measure on the ballot for voters to decide this November. The measure is widely supported by a broad coalition of Santa Barbara community groups and environmental organizations.

Measures to ban fracking and high-intensity petroleum operations have been adopted in New Mexico, Colorado and New York, to protect public health and safeguard natural resources. In California, residents of San Benito County are also circulating an initiative petition to ban high-intensity petroleum operations in that county. The San Francisco law firm of Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger LLP, which has extensive experience in land use and environmental issues, and attorney Nathan G. Alley of Limestone Law & Policy Advocates drafted the Santa Barbara measure.

Santa Barbara County Water Guardians is a growing coalition of concerned parents, professionals, farmers, students and others opposed to fracking and other high-intensive petroleum operations that threaten our water quality and supplies in Santa Barbara County.

We invite supporters to come to an April 5 kickoff party and to join our roster of hundreds of volunteers who will be gathering signatures to qualify our initiative for the November ballot at:


May 2013 Newsletter

Gasland 2, Democracy School, Do The Math Movie, Fracking Moratorium, and Goleta Against Drilling

For those of you who attended our Communities Rising event last month, thank you for attending!  And welcome to our mailing list.

We’re excited to announce that this is our first official newsletter and that we plan on sending more like this in the future.  Within the remaining days of this month there are a lot of inspiring events going on that show how we as ordinary people can make the changes we want to see in our communities.  FOR EXAMPLE:

Gasland 2 Screening + Discussion With Director Josh Fox

If you haven’t seen Gasland 1, we highly recommend it.  You can watch it on Youtube, here.  After watching the first Gasland, you should be convinced (if you weren’t already) that there is something very wrong with fracking.  Gasland 2 is brand new and being screened at UCSB, Buchanan Hall room 1910, 7pm, May 31.  The event is sponsored by the Center for Biological Diversity, Environment California, Global Exchange, and Food & Water Watch.  Director Josh Fox (Becca’s hero!) will be there for a panel discussion and How You Can Get Involved.
For more info:

Democracy School

The fossil fuel industry has identified Santa Barbara County’s Monterey Shale formation as a target for unconventional extraction techniques. Come learn from brilliant organizer, Shannon Biggs from Global Exchange, about how our democracy was intended to work, and about how we can use the community rights-based approach to reclaim our power in the face of the wealthiest industry in the history of money.

When:  Saturday, June 1, 12 – 4pm
Where: 21 W Anapamu Street

Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum

Free admission.
For more info:

Help spread the work on Facebook!

Do The Math Living Room Screening

Inspired by the Cesar Chavez organizing method of hosting rolling house parties centered on a political issue, we’ve decided to try out rolling living room screenings of‘s new film called Do The Math, which contextualizes the fossil fuel divestment movement sweeping across the world right now.  This is basically a real life “going viral” technique:  at the end of each screening everyone will be given a DVD of the film and encouraged to host a screening at their house with their friends, who may screen and show their friends, and so on.  Our friend Alex has volunteered to screen Do The Math this Saturday at 8pmTo RSVP reply to this email!

(You can also watch Do The Math on Youtube here, but watching it alone has a drawback: no face-to-face discussion about the film!)

California Moratorium On Fracking: Deadline This Week

The deadline for the California legislation calling for a moratorium on fracking is approaching this week.  Credo Action has put together a simple script and the contact information of the representatives we need to call to voice our support for this moratorium.  Click here to voice your support.

Goleta Against Drilling: 1000 Signatures by May 31

SoCal Gas is currently attempting to get permission from Santa Barbara County to start “four new wells for exploration and production of native gas at the existing La Goleta Storage Field.”  A newly formed group Goleta Against Drilling (GAD) circulated a petition that needs 1000 signatures by May 31 to submit to the county to show there is a strong opposition to more drilling.  GAD plans on having a large presence at a June 5 county hearing on this project.  For more information message them on Facebook.

Thanks for reading our long newsletter!
– Becca & Max

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