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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 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!