Follow the Money

“My doctor said if I want to stay slender, I should reach for a
Lucky instead of a sweet!” reads a typical cigarette ad from the ’50s. Another:
“After ten months … medical specialists report no adverse effects from smoking
Chesterfield.”

It wasn’t until 1964 that the Surgeon General’s report announced
that cigarettes cause cancer. Guess what? Big Tobacco paid researchers to lie
to us.

Fast forward to 2015, when a Harvard study revealed that
ExxonMobil had known for years about the link between climate change and
fossil-fuel emissions. Like R.J. Reynolds, the oil giant had quietly
contributed to research to disprove evidence about their dangerous product.

Now, in our county, three oil companies propose to expand drilling;
ExxonMobil wants to build a new pipeline; the feds are exploring fracking in Los
Padres Forest; and the EPA threatens to withdraw protections for the Santa
Maria aquifer. Many of the targeted areas border schools, churches, residences,
and farms.

Among those who have spoken in favor of drilling is the
president of Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, who claims that oil means
jobs for students. However, according to the oil company’s figures, the result
will be fewer than 10 new full-time jobs.

Furthermore, Aera Energy, the largest of the three companies, is
a donor to the President’s Circle of Allan Hancock, while Aera’s public affairs
manager Rick Rust sits on the college’s Board of Trustees.

UCSB’s Economic Forecast Project also receives funding from
Aera. “Coincidentally,” the Economic Forecast states unequivocally that we are
dependent on the money and jobs that oil brings to our county.

Neither entity factors in the financial burden of negative
effects on our health, environment, and climate change.

If the tobacco companies told you today that smoking was good for
you, would you believe them?

The post Follow the Money appeared first on The Santa Barbara Independent.

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