This week’s question:
Over the next two years, City Council will face a range of environmental issues. What is your stance on fracking in the Carpinteria Valley? What actions do you think the City should take to adapt to sea level rise?
I am against fracking in the Carpinteria Valley. We cannot take any chance of damaging our ground water, which is vital to our valley.
Also, the fracking process can pollute our air and contribute to climate change. We must care for and protect our community and environment for the generations to come.
Coastal California is already experiencing the early impacts of a rising sea level, including coastal erosion and more extensive tidal flooding during storms. We must abide by the California Coastal Act, one of the state’s primary coastal management laws. Effective implementation of this Act and the protection of our coast will address global sea level rise. This presents challenges of a new magnitude for our city and we are in the process of meeting those challenges. I believe adaptation actions and hazard mitigation undertaken today will prevent much greater losses than will occur if action is not taken.
My experience as a past president of the Carpinteria Valley Association and the Carpinteria Creek Committee, as well as serving as a director of the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District, has given me the background to address the full range of environmental issues that Carpinteria faces.
While on the City Council, I led the effort to reduce plastics and Styrofoam usage, implemented the Creeks Preservation Program, stood up to Measure “J” (Venoco’s ballot initiative to slant drill in Carpinteria), implemented the City’s Sustainability Policy, proposed a ban on all oil drilling and fracking in the city, and repeatedly protected our small town from overdevelopment.
For good reason, Carpinterians are shocked to learn of the possibility of new fracking in our valley (CVN, Vol. 24, No. 50). Fracking poses serious health impacts and threatens Carpinteria with irreversible environmental degradation.
Fracking risks include contaminating our precious water supply with toxic and carcinogenic chemicals, air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, gas explosions, the loss of potentially millions of gallons of water, open storage of large amounts of toxic wastewater and development of new roads and gas pipelines. And fracking has been linked to earthquakes, particularly in areas where contaminated wastewater is re-injected onsite.
While the proposed fracking site sits beyond the City’s jurisdiction, its impacts could have dire consequences for residents throughout the Carpinteria Valley. We need to follow this issue closely and put pressure on the County Board of Supervisors to deny this proposal.
Sea level rise from climate change, a result of burning fossil fuels, is a serious threat to Carpinteria. Impacts are predicted to arise through flooding creeks, as well as rising oceans. I sit on the City’s General Plan Update Committee, which has been studying this issue for over a year. We have released a draft comprehensive report that maps the vulnerability of structures, ecology and infrastructure to flooding. Further study will analyze various adaptation strategies including barriers, re-development and, yes, retreat.
We need to do our part to reduce our fossil fuel emissions and reduce the extent of further impacts. I urge all Carpinterians to review the General Plan Update study on this issue (the draft report is available on the City’s website) and to participate in future meetings of the General Plan Update Committee. Although the extent and timing of impacts is uncertain, we must begin planning for this issue now.
To many people, the term “fracking” provokes a fear of earthquakes and contaminated water. Although fracking has been practiced for over 60 years, the general public will benefit from education on what it is, its impact on our local environment, and why it is controversial. While there may be evidence touting the benefits of fracking, our leadership must consider whether the potential benefits outweigh the risks, how viable the threat of earthquakes and contamination are, and whether fracking aligns with Carpinteria’s identity as a community pioneering efforts to minimize waste and prioritize use of renewable energy.
My stance is that fracking does not have a place in the Carpinteria Valley.
Another recent finding that demands the attention of our community and local leadership is that of rising sea levels. This news also conjures up fears about the safety and livelihood of our coastal community. Combating potential threats caused by rapid changes in our environment will require City Council members to consult and collaborate with state and federal leadership and experts in the scientific community. To develop hybrid strategies of combating this rising issue, whether it means to revise our future developments or possible relocation of the affected areas. Keeping our Carpinteria community informed and able to speak directly with experts is another important responsibility of local leadership.
I believe it is our responsibility to protect our environment. We have been entrusted with one of the most beautiful places on planet earth and we should work to keep it that way. That means changing the paradigm of the necessity for fracking to realizing there are other clean, sustainable energy options.
Fracking, specifically hydraulic fracturing, uses a mixture of water, chemical additives and sand. My first concern is the high use of water. It is critical that we do all we can to conserve our water. My next concern is the chemical additives and their potential to negatively affect our health and environment. I believe the possibility exists that the risks are being underestimated and may not be realized for decades. Additionally, fracking requires specialized training and safety protocols; so it would not provide many local jobs. I don’t believe fracking is the answer.
I think the bigger issue is the need to convert to a 100 percent clean, economical and sustainable form of energy.
I will create a task force to develop a plan to accomplish this goal, incrementally, by 2030 (or sooner). Converting our main power source to solar and the financial programs needed to do that, should be one of their top priorities. This would benefit our businesses, residents and our environment. Some of these programs already exist, but more are needed. Conversion to solar would negate the need for the new proposed gas fired electric plant they want to build in our area. Additionally, we need to encourage research and development to find breakthrough technologies that make clean energy abundant and inexpensive.
In summary, we should not allow fracking in the Carpinteria Valley but work towards a 100 percent clean, economical, sustainable energy source by 2030.
Sea level rise is an issue that needs careful attention. Sea level rise issues come from ice melt, warming of the ocean/air and land motion. It can be exasperated by storms. Different studies have different ranges of potential risk; therefore, we need to look at all scenarios. Ignoring the risks is not the answer. I would encourage monitoring, researching and planning what we can do to protect Carpinteria. I think one of the best solutions to lower the potential for ocean warming is by converting to clean energy.
With regard to fracking, this type of oil extraction is too much of a gamble considering Carpinteria Valley's number one resource is its ground water supply. Why take a chance on polluting it? My stance is absolutely not. Never. Not on my watch.
With regard to sea level rise, let me start by telling you what the city has already done to adapt. Our General Plan is a road map of how the city should evolve over the next 10 to 100 years, with an emphasis on ensuring public health and safety as well as our quality of life. The General Plan Subcommittee, of which I am a member, identified sea level rise as an important issue because such a large segment of our community lives in low lying areas, not to mention businesses, schools such as Aliso, and the railroad tracks.
Keep in mind the area we know today as the Salt Marsh was originally much, much larger, and as sea levels rise those areas that lie within reclaimed marshland become more and more vulnerable to flooding during heavy storms and extreme high tides. One step to adapt that was taken early on, in conjunction with Santa Barbara County Flood Control and FEMA, was to enact a policy making property owners build new structures with a finished floor height above flood levels. A drive through the beach neighborhood and old town Carpinteria gives a clear visual of the elevation differences between new construction and older dwellings.
Another attempt to adapt was the installation of a back flow device (commonly referred to as a "flapper" device) in the Salt Marsh which prevents high tide water from entering our storm drain system while allowing street water runoff into the marsh. And by now everyone is familiar with the "dike like" sand berm that is built on the beach every fall/winter which offers private property protection from flooding and our public beach protection from erosion.
Assessing and adapting to sea level rise cannot be ignored. Working with other government agencies and studying tactics currently in use in other parts of the world, the City of Carpinteria will continue to address and adapt as needed.
Next week’s question:
The City of Carpinteria must constantly tackle financial needs for public services such as the Sheriff’s Dept., the Fire Protection District, City employee pension plans and the Carpinteria Library. What specific measures do you think the City needs to take to secure economic stability and sustainability in Carpinteria? Please also address your position on increasing the sales tax and the integration of the cannabis industry into the local economy.