Sally Lamas 
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Re: “What is your favorite thing about our "Best Of" issue?

A BIGGER DISCUSSION on ENERGY PRODUCTION for the FUTURE HEALTH OF WATER, LAND, HUMAN AND ANIMAL RESOURCES

By Sally Lamas, San Luis Obispo Resident
May 2018

I'm relieved we are talking about OUR PRECIOUS RESOURCE OF WATER AND THE GREAT COST OF ENERGY PRODUCTION.
In May 2018, over 20,000 SLO county voter signatures were collected to bring the issues of fracking and new oil wells in our county to the table in the November ballot. Whether your family has leased your land for oil drilling in Arroyo Grande, or you are firmly against the expansion of drilling and potential of future fracking in the county, we have the opportunity to discuss the greater picture of energy production and our individual demands for affordable energy. We must consider the cost of each form of energy production on our resources: water, land, air, human and animal life.

I encourage us each to educate ourselves on all sides of these issues, and keep an open mind so we can talk amongst ourselves, with neighbors, family, friends, and those who hold opinions different than ours. Let us truly investigate the costs of how our energy is created. We all use energy to run our cars, lights and appliances and to heat our homes. WE ARE THE CONSUMERS CREATING THE DEMAND, AND THEREFORE RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT WE CONSUME. We need to come up with the least harmful solutions that meet our demands for energy. We can't just vote "yes" or "no" for petroleum drilling without offering viable solutions. For the petroleum that is already being drilled for, are there ways to make it safer and cleaner? How do we regulate oil companies who may not have personal investment in the land or environment in which they are drilling?

Most of us use gasoline in our cars. Though more people are buying electric, it is not yet affordable for all. If we don't want more drilling, how will we choose to fuel our cars? Are the choices available (electric or vegetable oil, for example) something for which we'd be willing or able to initially spend more money or be "inconvenienced? Can we create more demand for the forms of energy/products we support and thus force producers to make what we will buy? This is simply capitalism at work. We control the market by choosing where we put our money.

While I am firmly against fracking anywhere in the world as it has unknown costs and potentially permanent damage to our land and water, I want to learn more about the diverse portfolio of energy sources and their pros and cons. Petroleum. Electric. Solar. Wind. Nuclear. Hydro-electric. Do we know the costs of each of these energy production methods? The cost of producing an electric car battery may seem green but there is a cost (look up the waste produced by nickle mines that contribute to electric batteries). Let us look at the bigger picture and come up with alternative ideas to propose when we vote "no" to something.

Let us also take a hard look at our personal energy consumption and see where we could use less or use more intelligently. When did we carpool last? Ride a bike? Walk? When did we put on a jacket instead of jacking up the heat? When did we vote with our dollar by making greener spending choices (and thus forcing our economy of capitalism to naturally respond to our demand)? Maybe you have done all these things and more. Good for you. Keep it up. I know I could do more.

We also need to remember that everyone will not have the willingness or ability to choose the tougher road of "cinching their belts" or not buying into what is easier or convenient. We need to make room for everyone at this discussion table to find solutions that create a various portfolio of energy production that can meet the needs of less wealthy constituents, larger families on a budget, farmers who depend on the income from oil drilling on their land to keep farming, etc.

Let's have more encompassing discussions and take specific personal actions even as we cast our specific votes this fall to protect our scarce water resource and determine how we will produce energy.

Posted by Sally Lamas on 05/12/2018 at 1:57 PM

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