Hey fellow Kossacks,
It's been a pleasure being part of this extraordinary community for almost ten years now. I started writing here in 2005, amassing hundreds of diaries before I started writing once or twice a day at Digby's place in 2011. I've also been writing at Salon, Alternet and every other weekend at Washington Monthly.
But now for the first time in over three years I'm taking a sabbatical from writing, because I'm plowing 14 hours a day into the biggest fight against Big Oil in the entire country, as campaign manager for Measure P in Santa Barbara County. I've managed and been field director on a bunch of campaigns before, including a recent hotly contested supervisor race, an Assembly race, and a bunch of local races. But none of them have had the wide-reaching national consequences of this one.
As you may know, California is sitting on some of the nastiest, dirtiest oil deposits in the country. The only way to get at them is by fracking them, acidizing them, or pumping billions of gallons of steam into them (cyclic steam injection). These techniques waste and pollute huge amounts of water during a drought, put human health and the environment at risk, and generate massive carbon emissions.
Some of us have been trying to get a statewide fracking ban passed, but without success so far. So activists in a few counties are taking it upon themselves to try to pass local bans, including in Santa Barbara County--where local oil companies are planning to drill over 7,700 new wells, generating a million cars' a year worth of carbon emissions just to drill the wells alone. Big Oil knows that if they can stop these local fracking bans, they'll have a much better chance of blunting momentum toward a statewide moratorium on fracking in California and elsewhere.
That's why Chevron and other oil companies have already dumped almost $2 million into the campaign to defeat Measure P. This is the same Chevron that was responsible for the famous 1969 oil spill off the Santa Barbara coast that many credit as the birth of the environmental movement.
The oil companies are telling the same lies they always do in these sorts of campaigns: that banning fracking and acidizing will stop all oil production everywhere, that thousands of jobs will be lost, that the county will be at risk of lawsuits, etc. None of it is true, of course, but the truth doesn't matter. The press dutifully stenographs the arguments of each side, and because Chevron and their pals have the money, they have the megaphone. They've got the slick TV ads, the paid social media, the gigantic mail campaign. All so they can keep on fracking and acidizing without even paying an extraction tax.
What we have is people power. Using a lean and mean campaign operation that pays no consultant commissions, we've already made over 100,000 phone calls and knocked on over 5,000 doors. We've got a fantastic and inexpensive mail program, and a great comms team handling earned media. We've got a good Facebook team. But unless something changes we're still probably going to be outspent by almost 20 to 1 by Big Oil.
Every poll and all our field numbers tell us that the race will be incredibly close. So we're putting everything we've got into our field efforts. I'm just worried it won't be enough. Right now we don't have the money for bilingual mail pieces or Spanish-language radio to the very communities who will be most affected by toxic dumping of drilling byproducts. We don't have the money for local cable buys on TV. To do all of that would take another $50,000 we just don't have.
Big Oil is counting on low voter turnout and apathy, and they're counting us being outgunned. I'm doing all I can to stretch every cent, but I could sure use your help.
We need folks to help with remote phonebanks (we have an awesome predictive dialer you can run from home), and we above all need money. We don't need the millions of dollars other campaigns do, but even just a few thousand more would make the difference between being able to reach various communities where they live, get our message out and respond to their lies, and not being able to.
Thanks everyone, and I'll be seeing you around the blogs when this crucial election is all over.