Agriculture

COMMENTARY: Frantic Fossil Fuel Frenzy

This frenzy is erupting right here in San Benito County.

I am a highway person. With my group, I gather trash on a section of Highway 156, which we have adopted. As I face rushing traffic, I wonder, “Why the rush?” Why so many trucks bearing down? Threatened with imminent disaster, I can no longer cross the highway; it’s much too dangerous. Why the rushing?

Thinking about speed, I realize the ground where I walk is spinning, giving us night and day. Then the whole earth is rushing around the sun, giving us our seasons. Again our planet and galaxy are headlong rushing through space. That is scary enough, but why the rush here?

Here I am picking up empty drink containers discarded through car windows while drivers rush on. Looking at the discards, I find energy and caffeine drinks which help speeders move along. Then I find all brands of beer bottles and something else—a small round green container. At first it looks like a graven stein apple; the labels says it’s “Forbidden Fruit.” Vodka and apple liqueur read the ingredients. This empty container should read “Forbidden Driving.”

Still I am wondering about the rush. The trucks of green tomatoes are going north. They do look like apples and retrieving a green tomato, I find they are as hard as apples, harvested in a rush. The trucks of red tomatoes are headed south to the cannery, it seems. I am considering a deep meaning to our rush.

Are we rushing to our own extinction? At this rate of climate change, the planet is losing species every day. Our life depends on all life. Climate change is as unrelenting as the carbon emissions from the very cars and trucks I observe. I’m also thinking of the source of the oil and gas that supplies this frenzy. Could it be oil and gas are the real “Forbidden Fruit?”

This fossil fuel frenzy occurs in our own backyard. Conventional oil wells have been extracting quietly for years and continue to do so. But old wells are being restarted by new methods to extract oil from shale. This process is given names like “fracking,” “hydraulic fracturing,” and “steam injection.” This frenzy is erupting right here in San Benito County. I belong to a group of like-minded residents who seek to ban “fracking.” Ban this rush to exhaust our water. Ban this rush to extract our resources so others can make money.

Big oil likes small communities where most people seem too busy to pay attention. The ones that do pay attention can be smeared with distracting and emotionally-charged propaganda. Big oil can throw a lot of money at a small-town election; they can buy politicians and smear opposition. This is exactly what is happening here, now. We want to stop this frantic fossil fuel frenzy.

Our sturdy highway sign reads, “Hollister Peace Vigil;” we in the peace movement oppose “fracking.” We want to turn off the oil spigot for big business.The pollution has to stop. War is the biggest polluter of the planet. Pollution causes climate change. Climate change kills all of us. We say take the money out of the “Forbidden Fruit” of fossil fuels and put it into solutions of green energy. “Green Energy” is our real fruit and the secret to our survival. Vote yes on Measure J which bans “fracking” and save our water. And the planet too.

Mary Zanger

I came to San Benito County as a bride and helped build out the Zanger family businesses, best known as Casa de Fruta on Highway 156. In the off seasons, I worked as a pharmacist in downtown Hollister. Now my work focuses on nudging my community to remember the power of fairness and justice that promote peace.