VC Star Opinion Editorial

Achieving a sustainable energy future must be based on science, not political agendas

It is unfortunate the author of the June 3 guest editorial in the Ventura County Star, “Put a permanent end to drilling,” chose to mislead and create unfounded fear instead of taking the opportunity to discuss the realities we all face as we consider the best way to ensure the sustainable energy future we all want.

After reading Tomas Morales Rebecchi’s litany of blatant falsehoods and unsubstantiated health impact assertions about our local energy production, my hope is the critical conversation we need to have to achieve a truly sustainable energy future can be one based on verifiable science and not solely on a singular political agenda to simply stop producing our primary energy source no matter what, the result of which will make us more dependent on foreign oil. It seems to me having an honest dialogue would be a great way to start to establish common ground to discuss the challenges we all face.

The verifiable facts are that all of the oil produced here in California under the most stringent environmental regulations on the planet is all consumed in California. We don’t export oil anywhere from California. The reality is, in California, of the almost 2 million (yes, 2 million) barrels of oil we use each and every day, the majority (over 1 million of these barrels) are imported from overseas. You can find these real facts on the California Energy Commission website. Ironically, every barrel we don’t produce here is another barrel we import.

The reference Mr. Rebecchi makes to the oil-related gases polluting our water wells is also not factual. Once again, he misconstrues the facts. The fact is the U.S. Geological Survey study monitoring groundwater is preliminary, and it only characterized subsurface gases (which occur everywhere on the planet as a byproduct of anaerobic decay of carbon matter) as “may be linked” to oil and gas production. Given the comprehensive governmental regulations and ongoing compliance of oil production specifically designed to eliminate this possibility, it seems highly unlikely the trace amounts of these gases detected are related to oil and gas operations. At minimum, shouldn’t we wait until the study is completed before we prematurely assume conclusions?

Instead of inciting fear as a means to achieve a predetermined and unrealistic political objective, can’t we do better?

I am convinced we can do better than scare tactics and divisive rhetoric around oil and gas production in Ventura County. We should look at the facts and have a constructive conversation about our energy future. The world is changing and we need to shift our thinking away from myths and misconceptions. So much depends on it. Let’s work toward the balanced, sustainable Ventura County that includes safe, local oil production. We all share the same future.

Jeanne Orcutt is a lifelong Ventura County resident and current executive director of the Coastal Energy Alliance, a broad-based organization advocating for all forms of energy.

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