Left Coast Luddites battle against free enterprise

October 29, 2014
Alex Alexiev

Alex Alexiev

OPINION By 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.


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OnTheOtherHand

Going beyond all the generalized, ad-hominem labeling, the gross exaggerations, all the straw-man building and general political propaganda which dominate Alexiev’s opinion piece, he does have a point or two correct.


There is no need for fracking here in our area at this time and the steam injection process is not only different but poses much less risk. If Measure P limited itself to banning fracking, it might be worth considering. It doesn’t and it isn’t. And it is unlikely to pass.


This makes me wonder why Alexiev goes to all that trouble to make a mountain out of an easily squashed molehill. His rant is an example of everything that is wrong with modern political discourse and a total turnoff to anyone who thinks about what they read. Demonizing everyone who disagrees with you on issues does not serve even your own long-term interests. Is he a liberal trying to do just that? Nah, I think that he has just been blinded by the past success of similar right-wing pundits and doesn’t realize that the tide is turning against them and their rhetoric. “Preaching to the Choir” is not the way to enlarge a congregation anymore — especially with the ease that the information age can prove false assertions wrong.


malcom f

“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.”


Any man or person that attacks another man or person rather than their ideas or science that counter the current system or thought patterns has either vested interests in maintaining the status quo/system of wealth accumulation to the top (1) or is ignorant to that fact either by choice or because hes a moron. which one are you alex.


So I stopped reading after that because the arguement will no doubt be flawed. Its a shame he may have even had some truthful points. I will never know.


My first and last word is thus. You are demonising your county governance ie the people you elected to make decisons for you, your own democracy. That has nothing to do with luddites.


Luddites were workers 200 years ago that destroyed theirs or others cotton spinning/weaving machines (workplace technology) not because it was bad technology but purely because the technology took away workers jobs. which karl marx later showed and proved was one of the critical ideas that formed the basis of “crisis of over production” that which causes boom and bust under capitalism and in my opinion , eventually capitalisms economic downfall when it cannot grow any more (to survive) on this finite planet.


we all know currently that alternative energy sources are more expensive than burning fossil fuel and that modern industrialisation runs on cheap fossil fuel. But anybody arguing that burning more fossil fuel makes a strong economy and therefore creates more jobs and that is good, is only worried about themselves (including their country) and does not care about the greater ecological or other ethical harmful consequences of this action to future generations of human or the planet, wether local or world wide…(2) .


Even then i am sure consuming fossil fuels instead of importing them will not solve the USA real long term problems of lack of real production and low wages and low taxes as talked about by many including Ravi Batar in his book “Greenspans Fraud”. Neither democrats or republicans that pretend to fix capitalisms failings are “left” and along with 99% of economists fail to understand how the capitalist economy functions or are intentionally misleading the public.That requires greater learning than the “education” system and tv gives us.


footnote :1) Remember the wealthy capitalist /bankers/politicians etc had already set up the current capitalist system before the vote was given to the working class, and Karl Marx famously said “The ruling ideas of each age have ever been the ideas of its ruling class” ie the workers get their ideas on how things should be from their bosses.


2) I read somewhere in a few years ago (perhaps outdated by Asias recent economic growth now ?) that the USA consumes 25 % of the worlds resources and produces 25% of the worlds greenhouse gas. Not long before that the NZ Herald produced a front page article saying that to live like America we would need 6 planets while a more recent world wildlife fund 2014 “living planet report” found we (world as a whole) would need 1.5 planets to carry on at current rate. see link below.


http://www.worldwildlife.org/pages/living-planet-report-2014


suzyque

Beautifully put!


Laughlines

Inside every “Progressive” is a death camp commandant screaming to get out. Solar is not yet ready, and incinerating innocent life forms like the “streamers” at Ivanpah is not an option.


Link: http://www.desertsun.com/story/news/environment/2014/04/07/birds-going-smoke-brightsource-energys-ivanpah-project/7448299/


Wind power chews through raptors like there’s no tomorrow…


Link: http://www.bigstory.ap.org/article/ap-impact-wind-farms-get-pass-eagle-deaths


We must resist the Progressive Death State at every opportunity.


I remember reading a National Geographic article in the 1970s regarding an experimental facility achieving over 90% combustion efficiency with coal. The U.S. has a thousand years of coal available if we have the political and moral courage to go get it. We are not the problem anymore with global emissions; China, India and Russia are. Why should we live in substandard conditions merely as an act of “penance” for perceived wrongs? I say let’s unleash our innovative genius, and figure out ways to make our native resources free us from foreign influence. One man’s opinion.


MaryMalone

QUOTING LAUGHLINES: “We must resist the Progressive Death State at every opportunity.”


———-


Ad hominem? Party of one?


Here is a clue…if you must stoop to an unrealistic characterization of an entire group of people to basically make a fallacious point, you really don’t have much of a point to make.


willnose

I am delighted to read the great many responses by articulate writers to that author’s screed of desperation!


Meanwhile, unbeknownst, or ignored by the original author, Germany is producing half their energy needs via solar and wind, a.k.a. renewable sources. They also set, and shut down nuclear plants, in a timed schedule to transition without disruption to their humming economy.


The world would end over here, if we did the same, according to “No on Measure P”


Scare tactics and fear mongering in politics is a measure of ineptitude, short-sightedness and failure, definitely not the answer, nor a solution. Just because you wear green T-shirts, doesn’t mean what you propagate is environmentally sound, nor passes muster with the voters. “YES” on Measure P


Green thumbs all the way – Hooray!


JMO

Ok. Fracking is bad, bad, bad. I think there was even a movie made about it, so it must be bad, bad, bad. Funny, though, that there are no proposals from any oil company to do any fracking in Santa Barbara County. It just doesn’t work here.


But why does Measure P also stop Steam and Well Acidizing? Regarding Steam, some of the oil is as thick as tar (think asphalt here). Without Steam, you can’t get it out of the ground. They have been Steaming for over 50 years in Santa Barbara County without one report of ground water pollution.


And why stop Well Acidizing? Ok, throwing Acid down a hole has to be bad, bad, bad. Right? It just sounds bad. But wait. Even municipal water wells pour Acid down their wells to clean out the well perforations so more water can flow into the well. What? It is safe for a drinking water well? How can that be?


Alex, the argument against Measure P can really be made without disparaging the people that are for it. We were all young and idealistic once. I almost cried when Carter lost to Reagan. I did shed a tear of sadness when Reagan passed. As cold hearted as it sounds, I doubt I will when Carter passes.


Kevin Rice

ANSWER: Acid neutralization reactions produce two things: salt and WATER. Pure water.


zaphod

more correctly salty water then right?


Kevin Rice

Not necessarily. Precipitates may fall out of solution, or be removed by other processes. Bottom line: Don’t take “facts” from some fracking nut job.


MaryMalone

QUOTING JMO: “…the argument against Measure P can really be made without disparaging the people that are for it. We were all young and idealistic once. I almost cried when Carter lost to Reagan.”


—–

Really? Pro-frackers can make a point without ad hominem attacks? Then why is it you insult those against fracking by implying their only reason we are anti-fracking is because we are “young and idealistic”?


Again, we see a pro-fracking poster who seemingly cannot make a point by legitimate means, but has to stoop to insulting their opponent(s).


I am neither young or idealistic. I voted against Obama in the last election largely because I have no use for bait-and-switch scammers.


Every post you and your fellow pro-crackers submarine your viewpoint with nearly every post you make. You are doing more harm than good for your cause.


JMO

Mary, you make some good points. The use of emotions by both sides on this measure (and most political campaigns) is common. I am directly involved in the oil industry so I certainly have a favorable perspective for their side. We, who work in this industry, wish simply that the true facts would get out and people could make a rational decision. The “Water Guardians” are using a technique in this election of throwing everything at the fan, making it very difficult to argue against Measure P. The simple facts are, there is no fracking taking place or planned for Santa Barbara County. If that was all Measure P was about, then you probably wouldn’t see the oil industry fighting it with as much money as they are. But Measure P includes all “Enhanced” methods, whatever that means. Most, if not all, of the new oil that oil companies are going after in Santa Barbara County is Heavy (think Tar, like the tar you see on the beach at Pismo). You need Steam to heat it so it can flow to the oil well. This has been done for decades with no pollution. Where does the water come from for the Steam? What most people don’t realize is that a typical oil well produces mostly water. That water has to be injected right back into the formation it came out of. The oil companies are spending tens of millions of dollars to clean up the water so that it can be used as Steam, then injected into the formation. No surface or potable water is used. These water treatment plants are extremely expensive and require technical operators to run. Yes, that means good jobs for local skilled employees.


There just isn’t any use of water that has anything to do with the drought. Yet that is one of the big arguments the “Water Guardians” are using. Mary, how do you have a civil discourse on this subject when you have to argue against something that just isn’t happening? The first ads I saw by the oil companies didn’t really appeal to me either. They were a little too defensive. Lately I think the oil companies are doing a better job in their advertising against Measure P. I think, as others have said better than I, that if Measure P was simply against fracking, it had a chance of passing. But, unless you really just want to shut down all oil production in Santa Barbara County, I think the voter that takes time to study the measure will have enough questions about it’s truthfulness and vote against it.


suzyque

Thank you for the clarifications. However, the point is – we have a choice to stop oil production here, whereas the New Jersey coast didn’t have a choice. So, I think “the people” will cast their vote while they can for less to no oil production.


willnose

I can respect your explanations, your point of view as you do not resort to the haranguing of opposing opinions. I appreciate your “Tone of voice” as it were!


You obviously know more about the subject than the average drive-by shooting commends. Too bad many of them shoot, but don’t bother to make valid points other than pull the trigger faster, harder, bam-bam-bam….


Keep up your end of the dialogue, and we might just come to a workable middle for all concerned parties.


whatsinaname

I have a relative that is living this nightmare in Oklahoma.


http://newsok.com/neighbors-of-duncan-halliburton-plant-worry-about-soil-water-contamination/article/3943688


I’m no expert on this, but I believe they are injecting something besides “steam” in the fracking process. They call it proprietary. These stories of pollution are popping up in Texas and Pennsylvania as well. I’m not sold on it being harmless.


Solar power companies are hiring like crazy right now, but I guess those jobs don’t fit the agenda of this story.


JMO

Fracking is primarily used for gas extraction in solid rock. You fracture the rock with high pressure fluid that has sand in it. After you remove the pressure, the sand keeps the rock cracks from reclosing. The gas flows through the porous sand. In Santa Barbara County the Monterey formation is generally heavy (thick as tar) oil. It wouldn’t flow through the sand in the cracks. I think fracking was tried on a couple wells in SB County but they didn’t pan out. At $1M to $2M a well, you aren’t going to spend money on something that doesn’t work.


The U.S. isn’t the only place that does fracking. Australia has thousands upon thousands of fracked wells (for gas production only). China and many other places also have been fracking for a while now.


If the formation being fracked is thousands of feet deep, way below any potable aquifer, you just aren’t going to get any pollution. Where you hear about gas getting into groundwater, like in Louisiana, the formations might be shallow (I don’t know). As far as Pennsylvania goes, I think there even is a coal mine there that has been on fire for the past 30 years. It just smolders underground, occasionally venting to the surface. There’s a lot going on in the geology there that I am not up on.


Bottom line on any of these mineral extraction methods, they need to be monitored and revised when needed. If any method is proven to be damaging to the environment, it shouldn’t be allowed. I sincerely think the government regulatory agencies are doing a good job.


willnose

I can respect your explanations, your point of view as you do not resort to the haranguing of opposing opinions. I appreciate your “Tone of voice” as it were!


You obviously know more about the subject than the average drive-by shooters comments. Too bad many of them shoot, but don’t bother to make valid points

other than pull the trigger harder, faster, bam-bam-bam….


Keep up your end of the dialogue, and we might just come to a reasonable, understanding of facts over hype, reach a workable middle for all concerned parties.


tictac1

It’s democracy, Alex, you’ll get over it. I’m not against fracking, but I respect the right of other people to tell me not to do it in their backyard.


While you quite rightly point out the fantasy that is “green energy”, I think you’re missing the much bigger picture: how do you continue exponential growth on a planet with finite resources? The paradigm will change, that much is certain. The only question is, will we change it by choice, or be forced by circumstance?


The real, long-term issue has nothing to do with one’s political ideology.


mikeGB

The US population has not been growing anywhere near exponentially. I’ve read that is actually has been shrinking by births since people are have fewer children and waiting until later in life to have them. Immigration is all that is keeping the populations from actually decreasing.


This is typical of nations that have a decent economy and a strong middle class.


We should not have to reduce our standard of living to pay for the supposed sins of the world. We already have much stricter environmental laws than massive population countries like China or India, and California is stricter than the US standards.


Man made global warming (or climate change) models and theories over predict warming effects (alarmism and hysteria), and may be nearly completely wrong. CO2 is not pollution. There are plenty of other real pollutants our scarce resources should focus on.


tomsquawk

one more thing, fracking isn’t the only thing. CO2 recovery is another option. look at Denbury


tomsquawk

excuse me, but what is wrong with taking CO2 from facilities that would otherwise release into the atmosphere and burying it under the gound instead? i would love to see some discourse on this.


pigsrule

Excellent article. This isn’t jobs versus clean air. The left’s assault on our economy is for political reasons – mainly control. If we really wanted clean air and water, we would be building nuclear plants – uh, but that isn’t a goal of the left. The narrow-minded leftist only see power and control, with business and jobs not their concern.


Let’s have the left have their way – back to caves and fire-pits I say. Cough cough.


MaryMalone

Another impotent poster who cannot raise a solid argument so must attempt to prop it up with inaccurate ad hominem attacks.


ml1999

Great article, Alex. I knew Germany and Spain were having huge problems, but I didn’t know the recent news.


I do know that Germany (which was shutting down coal burning plants) has had to buy “excess” electrical power from France, which gets its electricity from that other clean energy source, nuclear power. Nuclear power emits zero CO2, the religion of the Left.


Fracking produces Clean Natural Gas (NG), which is much cleaner than gasoline or coal. Not perfect, but good enough that it has helped our nation to cut CO2 emissions by 20 percent!! The Liberals should be dancing in the streets with those kinds of reductions.


Indeed, North Dakota has a humming economy and jobs at Target pay $17 an hour because demand is so high for workers. We can also use CNG to power cars, and cut pollution further.


willnose

Meanwhile, unbeknownst or ignored by the original author, Germany is producing half their energy needs via solar and wind, a.k.a. renewable sources. They also set, and shut down nuclear plants, in a timed schedule to transition without disruption to their economy. The world would end over here if we did the same, according to “No on Measure P”


Scare tactics and fear mongering in politics is a measure of ineptitude, short-sightedness and failure, definitely not the answer, nor a solution. Just because you wear green T-shirts, doesn’t mean what you propagate is environmentally sound, nor passes muster with the voters. “YES” on Measure P


I am delighted to read the great many responses by articulate writers to that author’s screed of desperation. Green thumbs up all the way – Hooray!


MaryMalone

How about this….I don’t want to suffer the degradation of our environment and the health of the Central Coast’s groundwater basins, animal and plant life just so you can have a job.


tomsquawk

i think you need to elaborate


ml1999

Increased production of clean CO2 has resulted in our CO2 emissions being cut by 20 percent, which is what we sought to achieve with the Kyoto accord (which Clinton didn’t sign).


The EPA has also given fracking a clean bill of health.


Spacetrekker

“Increased production of clean CO2 has resulted in our CO2 emissions being cut by 20 percent”. I must have missed that day in chem (and math) class, when the increased production of a compound resulted in the compound being cut by 20 percent.


“The EPA has also give fracking a clean bill of health.” Well hallelujah. One of the federal agencies we really need to trust has cleared all of the scientific mumbo-jumbo hurdles (again).


http://snipurl.com/epaoops


ml1999

Your local junior college should offer classes in both, as well as logic. And I could take a typing class! (Typo.)


Yes, increased production of clean Natural Gas (NG) resulted in lower CO2 emissions. What I didn’t spell out fully is that we have closed down some coal power plants, and some coal power plants have been converted to burn NG. Thus, we are using cleaner energy sources, and CO2 levels have dropped by 20%.


Messkit

So, covering hundreds or thousands of acres of “pristine animal and plant life” with solar cells, or windmills, is OK with you?


I’ll bet you want to ban hunting, because killing animals is murder, and we should get our meat from the store instead?


MaryMalone

What is your point?


hijinks

Put it on your roof!