Left Coast Luddites battle against free enterprise

October 29, 2014
Alex Alexiev

Alex Alexiev


It has come to pass that Santa Barbara County has put on the ballot a ‘Measure P’ that, if voted in, would essentially do away with the oil and gas industry in that county.

This at a time when America is becoming the envy of the world as the largest producer of oil and gas thanks to the shale revolution and the country with the cheapest energy among industrial nations, giving it an unbeatable comparative advantage. A revolution that, in turn, has triggered a remarkable phenomenon known as ‘re-shoring’ bringing back to America dozens of manufacturing plants and tens of thousands of previously off shored jobs.

What Santa Barbara County does or does not do is, of course, the business of its voters, but there is no escaping the fact that this is yet another proof that the county like the once Golden State is marching bravely over the economic cliff. As in all similar paradigm-changing political efforts, the true objective of this measure is carefully camouflaged behind high-sounding if fraudulent calls for clean water and air by prohibiting “high intensity petroleum operations,” such as hydro-fracturing (fracking) and steam injection.

Yet, even a perfunctory look at the text of the measure and the list of “water guardians,” as proponents of the measure call themselves, reveals a dyed-in-the-wool, leftist motley crew of democrat apparatchiks, ex-comrades, green fruitcakes and assorted nuts of many colors. Absent among them for the most part are labor unions, half a dozen of which fill the ranks of the opposition alongside firefighters, cops and chambers of commerce.

This last point may be the real answer as to why the “guardians of water” are trying to outlaw a legitimate and promising industry. It is an act of desperation, for the Left sees its fondest dream of defeating capitalism through the false promise of green paradise blown away by the economic rationality of the shale revolution. And this is the case even in a state with a governor called Moonbeam, where oil production is now less than half of what it was 30 years ago, where electricity costs 50 percent more than the United States average and where oil imports from the likes of Saudi Arabia and Ecuador are up 50 percent even as they have gone down 30 percent in the rest of the country.

In what may be the coup-de-grace for Measure P, in late August, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management released an extensive study of the effects of fracking and other techniques targeted by Measure P, by the California Council on Science and Technology (CCST). It found “no instances of harm,” as have numerous other studies of the over 1 million cases of fracking in the country to date. This, according to the BLM, clears the way to resuming oil and gas leasing of public land in California next year.

What this could mean for California, which reportedly has the greatest shale resources in the nation, becomes clear from a quick comparison with Texas where the shale revolution is in full swing. In 2013, the oil and gas industry there added 23,000 jobs paying an average of $103,000 per year and paid 13.6 billion to the state in taxes.

Elsewhere, the news for the red-green utopians is even less sanguine. It was but a few years ago when President Obama urged Americans to follow the lead of countries like Germany and Spain in renewable energy or risk falling hopelessly behind. Today the great European experiment in green energy requiring heavy government subsidies looks more and more like an unmitigated disaster. In Germany, electric energy now costs three times more than in America and 800,000 “energy-poor” households had their electricity turned off for non-payment. The government is now drastically cutting down the renewable subsidies and encouraging the building of coal-fired stations. The road to green heaven there, it now seems, is paved with….lignite.

In Spain, the government promise to solar companies of 15 percent to 20 percent profits guaranteed for 20 years was rescinded retroactively, leading to a collapse in the sector with investment shrinking by 90 percent and employment falling from 60,000 to 5,000 virtually overnight. Similar cuts are now being reported in Italy, Britain, Czech Republic etc. as Europe tries to lick the self-inflicted wounds of its renewable folly. Last but most, the EU powers that be are finally acknowledging the problem. According to competition commissioner, Joaquin Almunia, all subsidies must be replaced by ‘market mechanisms’ by 2017.
Back in California, the Luddites of Santa Barbara are facing stiff opposition to their radical Measure P agenda and the long-entrenched democratic congresswoman and anti-fossil fuel zealot, Lois Capps, for the first time faces a tough reelection challenge by conservative republican Chris Michum. Hard to believe as it is, it appears that common sense and economic rationality might sooner or later triumph even in the People’s Republic of California.

Alex Alexiev, a resident of the California’s Central Coast, is a senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center (IASC) in Washington D.C.



  1. hijinks says:

    Quit your neanderthal moaning and put some PV on your roof! That’s the future, not any form of fossil fuel. The sooner we all get serious about PV on the roof, the sooner we’ll all be free from the Oil Oligopoly. In the long term, that’s how the economy will grow, not by drilling holes in the ground to inject stuff to blow out the world’s worst crude.

    (3) 7 Total Votes - 5 up - 2 down
    • JMO says:

      I met an engineer that worked for Phillips 66 making (hold on to something now) SOLAR PANELS! The manufacture of solar panels apparently is heavily oil dependent. WHAT? That just about bursts my bubble! Solar hot water heaters are just about the most efficient conversion of solar energy for households. It was pushed by the greenies in the 80’s. Laws were passed to subsidize and encourage solar hot water heaters, Know anyone with a solar hot water heater on their roof? Me neither. That begs the next question. Why don’t liberals ever admit their failures and be embarrassed enough to quit telling other people what to do? No. They just conveniently forget their stupid blunders that they rarely do themselves and go on to tell people to do another stupid blunder as if they never were wrong. After Solar, there will be the next thing. Count on it.

      Hijinks, do you live in a straw bale house? No? Wait. Weren’t you the same jerk that was telling us we all had to build straw bail houses?

      (-2) 4 Total Votes - 1 up - 3 down
  2. Dr.Tom says:

    A few remarks – from an old geologist in Cuyama Valley and a luddite for disposal of cleanup for the StaBar.Oil Spill in 1968-73…
    For more than five years, everyone has said that “There is NO EVIDENCE of any problem from fracking or other oil and gas operations.” This is not surprising when the last Supervisor of O&G resources in California stated: “Fracking is Regulated but Not Reported” and then later stated: “We can’t ban fracking as it is not regulated.” So it is not surprising that no evidence can be found for either problems or NO problems…there is nothing to form “Informed Consent”. Event the “most stringent fracking regulations in the US” now under revisions by Dept. of Conservation for issuance in 2015 to regulate fracking has a section that says to make a final report on regulated activities within 60 days of completion BUT if you can’t do it as soon as possible, i.e., “whenever we are forced to ask you”.

    So yeah we need more information and it seems the only way to get such is to threaten the industry to get them to the table….so Measure P for both fracking and steaming seems the only way…the industry should have paid the money to publicly sort things out and be good neighbors beyond the county seat…

    (5) 19 Total Votes - 12 up - 7 down
  3. suzyque says:

    No contest. You win … your side of the argument, that is. Not the other side, which is the majority of the population in Santa Barbara County. The consciousness is on healthful living in a clean environment, which as it turns out, is a full-time job. Those who are of this belief have taken it upon themselves to be the stewards who nurture, clean up, and protect the earth and the ocean for all beings. Does this sound a little familiar?

    Our industrial military complex country operates at a completely different level of thinking which has become dependent on vehicles to the extent that we are killing ourselves from their production, their exhaust, the astronomical accident rate, as well as the gross production of oil and gas which they require. Hence Governor Brown’s plans for cleaner statewide transport by high-speed rail.

    Perhaps it would behove you to “join the party” – the green party that has formed to repair the planet. All you have to do is be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

    (2) 24 Total Votes - 13 up - 11 down
  4. Slowerfaster says:

    OTOH outlined most of the false arguments of this dfisconnected screed.

    I will contribute one more, where the stressed out author chides the ‘left coast Luddites’ in the title.
    The Luddites were an anti-technology faction that refused to change and did not want the rest of society to be able to. They figured the new methods and science would adversly affect their jobs.
    THAT is the extreme right-wing conservative argument.
    It is the reactionaries and Republicans that refuse to change, that are stuck in the 19th/20th century fossil fuel paradigm of extraction and consumption. They base their opinion on THEIR economics; not on science or progress.

    Alexiev and those that support his position are the modern Luddites.

    (3) 23 Total Votes - 13 up - 10 down
    • whatisup says:

      You hit the nail on the head. Crude oil will relatively quickly go the way of whale oil for energy purposes. The right simply does not realize the absolutely unbelievable progress being made in alternative energy sources. I simply don’t understand their unwillingness to look beyond crude oil. I am sure there were those that held on to the bitter end with whale oil and the same will happen with crude. Eventually, crude oil’s use for energy production will be a footnote in history just as whale oil is.

      (3) 3 Total Votes - 3 up - 0 down
  5. Pelican1 says:

    All I have to say is…..Get Fracked!

    (0) 6 Total Votes - 3 up - 3 down

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