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Oil, tobacco are different

I was amused by a recent letter, “Cat Canyon plan has dangers,” typical of his usual hyperbole intended to persuade the reader that plans to renew Cat Canyon oil production are the embodiment of evil. As usual, he falls short.

Foundational to his argument is the attempt to draw parallels between these companies’ tactics and those of the tobacco industry. Wrong, again.

First, tobacco has no established benefits and any level of exposure is injurious to human health. While he cites the attempts of local oil companies to promote and defend their business and investments, they are no different than those used by any corporation in its defense of its business.

Even more egregious is his statement, “Organic chemicals that share molecular characteristics with the poisonous and cancer-causing substances in cigarettes,” which is scientifically meaningless. “Molecular similarities” like what, chemical bonds, atoms or the like?

That statement is purposefully vague and an attempt to mislead the reader. I am no ingenue to organic chemistry, having spent nearly 10 years following graduate school as an organic chemist, compounding biomaterials, evaluating their toxicological profiles, and submitting them to FDA for approval to be used in the human body. His “molecular similarities” assertion is simply meaningless, and useless in support of a meaningful position.

As for the validity of ERG’s mitigation plan, that letter writer conveniently forgets that such plans are also subject to monitoring and evaluation to ensure performance.

In the end, though, the letter writer does get one thing right — his arithmetic conversion of metric tons to pounds is correct. Bravo!

Roy Reed

Santa Maria

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