Our Community is Speaking Out! Hear What They Have To Say...
The opinions expressed in this section do not necessarily represent the Measure J campaign
Measure J Commentary: Joe Morris, Cattle Rancher.
No on J campaign: To disagree is fine; to lie is cowardly
Let’s be clear: it is a lie. First, it came in the mail sent by San Benito United asserting that it would “protect San Benito County.” This is a clever appropriation of our organization’s name, Protect San Benito, and sole purpose. But not so clever really: its contents, too, were misleading. Then the phone rang. Maybe yours has too.
The young man on the other line plunged into his script: “…our county will be fundamentally changed. The Measure J people want to ban all oil production….” I stopped him there. Wait a sec, I said. Are you from San Benito County? Because you just said “OUR county.” “Well…no I’m not.”
“In that case, let me tell you that what you are saying is a lie. Measure J is an “Initiative to Ban Well Stimulation Treatments and Enhanced Recovery (such as Fracking and Steam Injection) throughout all Unincorporated Areas of San Benito County and to Ban All Petroleum Operations in Residential General Plan Designations in Unincorporated San Benito County and Make Related Zoning Changes.”
That’s what Measure J is. It does not propose to “ban all oil production,” just that production that might take place in residential areas, you know, where homes are and children play and go to school. To claim it does otherwise is a lie. Though it may be repeated a million times, it will still be a lie.
The young man was sputtering as I wished him “good evening,” and, otherwise speechless, he muttered “Thanks.” We parted, I hope, respectful. Truly, he had no idea what he was doing. He was calling on behalf of “San Benito United” who claims to represent “farmers, ranchers and other trusted stewards of the life we have created here in San Benito County “ who are in favor of fracking for oil in our beautiful, fragile, water stressed county. I am not so sure.
I am a rancher. I am a steward of the life our forebears and we have created here. And San Benito United sure as heck doesn’t represent me—or many other ranchers, farmers and other stewards I know. (Check out the farmers and ranchers who will Vote Yes on J,http://www.protectsanbenito.org/)
In fact, I am utterly disgusted with the boards of two historically very respectable organizations, the Cattlemen’s Association and the Farm Bureau, who have loaned their names to a campaign based on a lie. I am disgusted with them because they are decent people who are behaving uncharacteristically indecently. They have hitched their wagons, and by association all of the good and honest farmers and ranchers in this county who they are supposed to represent, to a group who would lie about a ballot measure with which they disagree.
To disagree is fine, even honorable. To lie is cowardly. To lie in my name and the names of other ranchers and farmers who do business by a handshake and hold trustworthiness as sacrosanct is despicable.
What these two boards of directors need to do is, one, apologize to their members and, two, recant their lie—publicly.
Measure J bans “fracking” and other extreme technologies used to extract oil from the ground. Traditional oil drilling may go on as usual.
Keep the lights on when you read your mail, watch commercials and answer the phone. Ranchers and farmers as a group do not support fracking. Those who say they represent us should be ashamed for connecting us with a campaign based on a lie.
Vote YES on J.
Joe Morris, T.O. Cattle Co. and Morris Grassfed Beef
BIG OIL IS RIGHT…
…but at what cost? We will have more natural gas and petroleum, but at what cost? We will lessen our dependency on coal, but at what cost? The Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations recently concluded a study that questions all the long term economic benefits touted by the oil industry and their political and media lackeys.
Have we become such a nation of sheep, that we are willing to send our grandchildren and great-grandchildren to the slaughter house so that the fat cats heading our oil companies and the politicians that continue to do their bidding can enjoy a lifestyle that most of us will never get to experience. The oil companies are spending millions to convince us that a possible economic boost at the gas pumps is worth the price of destroying our environment for our children and their children and we live in such a world of fear that we are willing to be led down their pollution filled path. PLEASE try to imagine the scenario that is looming ahead of us in bucolic San Benito County if we don’t all stand up and say “NO!”
Imagine the hundreds of trucks required to bring water (3-8 million gallons are required during the life of most hydraulic fracturing wells) and chemicals (many of them carcinogenic) for the hydraulic fracturing well filling our roads causing costly damage to an already fragile road system creating traffic problems, noise pollution, and air pollution. Imagine scenic Highway 25 filled with trucks rumbling to and from the fracking sites day and night for the life of the wells.
Imagine the depletion of our already scarce water supply especially during this drought of unknown duration while our ground water is contaminated and our children are poisoned and spend their lives thanking us for all their preventable health problems because “fracking” is exempt from federal regulations to protect water quality.
Imagine the San Andreas, Calaveras, Sargent, Paicines, Bear Valley, Zayante-Vergeles, and Quien-Sabe Earthquake Faults all increasing in the number of earthquakes shaking our pastoral county due to “fracking” causing untold property damage and threatening our personal safety.
Imagine the many workers coming into the county from outside the state sending their earnings home while straining our local government services and giving little or nothing to the well-being of our community.
Imagine your granddaughter sitting next to you at the gas pump, unable to have children due to the chemicals leaching from the wells into our ground water and spilling on the ground during transport, while you praise the oil companies for reducing our gas prices by a few cents. You are better than this!!!
Yes, these are worst case scenarios, but they have happened in other communities and can easily happen here if we don’t stand up and fight the oil companies now. We have a sacred obligation to look out for future generations with decisions today that are not based on our personal self-interest, but on the welfare of our families, our communities, our nation, our world. The oil companies would have us believe that the ends justify the means, but this is a perfect example of the means creating an end that can never be justified. How many times in history have we in hindsight said, “I wish we had done that differently for the good of all.” Today you have the opportunity to write history and act for the good of all!
- Don Pidd, Caretaker
San Benito County Historical Park
Dear San Benito County,
The San Benito High School Teachers Against Fracking consists of 98 teachers concerned about the risks that fracking poses to our community. We endorse a “Yes” vote on Measure J, the anti-fracking measure for the following reasons: We care about the health of our youth and do not want them exposed to harmful chemicals. We know that students need to be healthy and free of illness to perform at their highest level. We do not believe that it is worth the risk. We care about our environment. We care about water and do not want to take any chances with a resource more valuable than oil. We do not want to jeopardize the safety of our ground water for drinking. We care about the seismic activity in our area and do not want to take a risk that we might destabilize any of the many faults in San Benito County that might threaten our aged high school facility.
We support Measure J because it DOES NOT BAN all oil recovery in the county, only the non-traditional methods including fracking and acidification. Please help us protect the things that are really important to our way of life in San Benito County; healthy children, a clean stable environment, and a safe and adequate supply of water for drinking, farming and ranching.
The San Benito High School Teachers Against Fracking
YES ON MEASURE J
Dear Richard and other San Benito Farm Bureau Members,
We do not agree with the Farm Bureau’s opposition to Measure J and unless it is changed immediately we are withdrawing from the Farm Bureau.
Over the years we have been Farm Bureau members we haven’t always agreed with the state or national Farm Bureau policies. It has occasionally been painful to have been included as farm bureau members tacitly supporting some short sighted policies. In the past we have overlooked these “inconsistencies” thinking that we agreed on other policies and it was still worthwhile to support the Farm Bureau. No Longer.
It’s interesting that we received the Sepember 4th letter from you asking us to donate money to Farm Pac to insure water supplies. A proposition like Measure J that seeks local control over a process that could seriously permanently pollute our scarce water resource seems like it would be an obvious YES position for the Farm Bureau. We will be sending the money we would have sent to the Farm Bureau to support Measure J.
It’s pretty simple- We can still exist without oil or gas, though it will be a big change. We can’t live without water.
-Dale and Christine Coke
ACE Supports Measure J
Two and a half years ago San Benito County got a wakeup call that the enhanced petroleum extraction juggernaut that has swept large areas of the US can happen anywhere, even here. Mysterious giant thumper trucks showed up in our neighborhood on the western edge of San Benito County, and it soon was revealed that they were prospecting for oil. Neighbors were concerned, and a grass roots effort was launched, Aromas Cares for the Environment or ACE. We educated ourselves about petroleum extraction, and learned that there are new technologies such as fracking being widely used in other states. We also discovered that San Benito County’s regulation of oil drilling was almost non-existent. ACE set out to do something about that. We worked with the Board of Supervisors for almost a year, culminating in the passage of a new County ordinance that brought some scrutiny to the process of obtaining an oil drilling permit here. The ordinance doesn’t have all of the protections that we wanted, but it was the best compromise that could be approved at the time.
Now ACE is ready to endorse Measure J, because we think that more protections are needed.
Over the years since those thumper trucks ignited interest in this issue, the landscape has continued to evolve. Increasingly people in communities across the country report that enhanced oil and gas extraction has polluted their air and water, industrialized their landscapes, and caused the destruction of their communities – crushing their dreams of riches. The most gripping tragedies are the families who own their land, but not the mineral rights, and have their property invaded by an overwhelming industrial process, shattering their lives. In parts of New York, Pennsylvania, New Mexico and Colorado, grass roots organizations have passed ballot measures to ban high intensity petroleum technologies, because they’ve seen firsthand what it can do to their communities.
As residents of San Benito County become more educated about issues with oil extraction, the political climate changed and other citizens groups formed. The Coalition to Protect San Benito County initiated Measure J because regulation of fracking and other high intensity petroleum technologies provides inadequate protection in San Benito County. The need for further protection was reinforced when the County approved the Indian oil field in Bitterwater without a thorough environmental review, and the approval was later overturned in court. Hard working local citizens are asking you to vote to prohibit fracking and high intensity oil extraction in our county by voting YES on Measure J. ACE thinks that’s the right choice.
ACE Steering Committee
"Recently, the San Jose Mercury News described the Central Valley water reserves as “shrinking by 800 billion gallons a year.” But, there was no mention of companies eager to start hydraulic fracturing and the immense amounts of water both consumed and contaminated by the process. Fracking companies are the top bidders in Colorado on water once claimed by farmers, and the price to farmers is still increasing. Water used for fracking and contaminated with toxic chemicals is disposed of in deep injection wells and leaves the water cycle forever. That is at least preferable to the 300 million gallons of fracking waste-water discharged into rivers yearly in Pennsylvania."
Those Deceptive, Misleading Political Activists
I recently received a mailing from San Benito United for Energy Independence informing me of the misguided political activists who are pushing a deceptive amendment that will shut down a safe, local and carefully regulated industry that is a reliable and potentially growing source of revenue for vital public health and safety services.
I really tried to understand all this with an open mind, but when I started to do some research into their statements was quickly overwhelmed with the fact that, what I assume is a sincere group of signers to the letter, they were so easily manipulated by the oil industry rhetoric. I first wanted to see where all this was coming from. San Benito United for Energy Independence is primarily funded by Californians for Energy Independence, which in turn is funded by the oil and gas industry.
Though the families, communities and states that have been adversely affected by the oil and gas industries’ incursions is overwhelming (just take the time to do a little research into the documented stories of water contamination, health problems, radioactivity, air pollution, long term economic impact, etc. across the United States), we have to go no further than San Benito County to realize that we are at risk of destroying one of the most beautiful and protected environments in the State.
Let’s just take a quick look at one oil company’s efforts. The courts recently ruled that San Benito County unlawfully approved a dangerous new oil-development project near Pinnacles National Park that could result in hundreds of wells being drilled in important agricultural and wildlife habitat in the Salinas Valley watershed. I’m not so naïve as to think that the courts are always unbiased in their decisions, so I tried to dig a little deeper into Citadel Exploration Inc. and their Indian Wells Project.
The following information is directly from Citadel Exploration’s website. I’ve highlighted some items that I thought were of importance.
In early 2012, COIL’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Citadel Exploration, LLC (“CEL”), entered into a lease for 688.71 acres of property with Vintage Petroleum, LLC (“Vintage”), a company owned by Occidental Petroleum (NYSE:OXY), for the purposes (and with the exclusive right) of prospecting, exploring, mining, drilling and operating the leased premises for oil and gas. Ultimately, establishing this commercial threshold will be a key catalyst for creating value for Citadel’s shareholders.
Statements such as “agreed to mitigation measures with the County of San Benito,” or taking the appropriate "measures to preserve our rich cultural history and our environment," involve risks and uncertainties, including, but not limited to the fact that there is no guarantee the County will approve our proposed methods, and our ability to successfully drill wells and extract resources, operate without adversely impacting the environment and archaeological sites, or other general economic conditions which would hinder our ability to operate effectively. Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual outcomes may vary materially from those indicated. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking statements we make in this news release include market conditions, our ability to mitigate environmental impacts, adherence to regulations, and those set forth in reports or documents we file from time to time with the SEC. We undertake no obligation to revise or update such statements to reflect current events or circumstances after the date hereof or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events.
Back to me now:
When the oil companies themselves indicate that the risk is unknown and the real economic beneficiaries are their shareholders, shouldn’t that be enough to say “wait a minute!” let’s get all the information we can before allowing outside corporations to use our beautiful county as a testing ground for the future well-being of our children and the environment. This isn’t about “supporting farming and ranching” as stated in the mailer, but about preserving the water, air, and land for future farmers and ranchers from the invasion of oil companies who care little about our continued health.
I real irony is their statement that oil production “is a reliable and potentially growing source of revenue for vital public health and safety services.” The need for increased revenue for these services will be necessitated by the process created by the oil companies themselves. Fracking’s negative impacts on our environment and health come with heavy “dollars and cents” costs. The documented costs range from cleaning up contaminated water to repairing ruined roads and beyond. Many of these costs are likely to be borne by the public, rather than the oil and gas industry and as with the damage done by previous extractive booms, the public may experience these costs for decades to come.
If fracking is permitted in San Benito County…
Will energy costs stay down for the long term...unknown, but unlikely.
Will dependence on foreign oil go down…probably.
Will local economy benefit in the short term…possibly.
Will our water be contaminated…unknown, but possibly.
Will our drought stricken water supply be impacted…most certainly.
Will our local economy suffer in the long term…unknown, but possibly.
Will our children suffer health problems…unknown, but possibly.
Will your property rights be protected…definitely not by the oil companies.
So, PLEASE, think and decide for yourself if the possible long term negative impacts are worth the possible short term benefits. I think not, but that’s why in a democracy we have the right to vote for what we believe is most important for the future of our children, grandchildren, and beyond. So don’t take sides, take “thoughtful” action based on what is best in the long term for your family, your community, your well-being. Vote your heart and be counted!
- Don Pidd, Caretaker
San Benito County Historical Park