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COMMENTARY: Protect San Benito County?

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,

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

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Submitted by (Luis Valdez) on

The natural beauty of our way of life here in San Benito County is under attack by
unscrupulous interests who ultimately do not care if their greed harms the rest of us.
Joe Morris is an honest and trusted neighbor. I
agree with and support his position!

Submitted by (Nick Brown ) on

Thanks for showing us the courage to speak your mind. Oil production is one issue, but why is protecting the ground water never mentioned by San Benito United? Is it because injecting waste water injection has been contaminating wells? The oil and gas companies will say anything to get there operations started then deny they are the causing the contamination of aquifers. Politicians who are accepting election campaign fund financing from gas and oil companies create weak regulations like SB4. San Benito Citizens who seek answers to all the issues and vote are not leave this critical decition to politicians. The heavily funded campaign to stop Measure J insults our ability to make an informed vote.

Submitted by (Will McGuire) on

Money Corrupts, What we are seeing here in San Benito County is the visible effects of the corruption in high places and organizations that are supposedly ran by responsible people, and they allow their names and visages to be used in ways that can destroy their reputations when the truths are revealed, that's what the power of money can do..
The Oil interests from Out OF State has just yesterday filed their form 497 with the elections dept. (required by FPPC regulation), another $907,000.00 has been pumped into San Benito County to defeat measure J, This isn't just about San Benito County but about San Benito County setting a precedent that other counties will copy. VIVA San Benito, VIVA Measure J !!

What kind of nonsense are you folks posting? 

"Money Corrupts"  has no more to do with the oil industury than it does farmers.  Farming poisons the watertable is a more accurate and measureable statement than "money corrupts".

I say radicalism corrutpts one's reasoning and these commnets by Measure J supports are my evidence.

Marty Richman



Submitted by (jeannette langstaff) on

So you prefer oil to destroy our ground water, air, and health, to agriculture growing our food and where are your values? In the General Plan, I see keeping our county agriculture. open space, rural, historical, wise development, and a safe and healthy environment for our residents. We are standing up to that promise and allowing the 21st century sustainable jobs come into our county as other counties are doing? People should vote "yes " for healthy and sustainable jobs of solar panels in our towns, not out
side towns, wind power and other current practices and future solutions? Vote "Yes on Measure J" banning fracking and other high intensity petroleum operations. Conventional oil/gas drilling is still allowed in over 90% of the unincorporated county. Don't let the outside corporations rule and degrade our health and welfare in San Benito County. Our regions has been passed on by dedicated generations to us, as an outstanding area to reside and with the life giving benefits of Nature. Know that healthy jobs are available and will be here. It's in the process now for San Juan Bautista. This is the time to take the stand along with other counties to do what's best for all! See for the actual words in this initiative. That's where the truth lies.
Jeannette Langstaff

More nonsense - there is no evidence that enhanced oil recovery does any of those things.  In a sane world mere accusations are not eveidence. Didn't you read the  BLM report  and other scientific reports by those government agencies we have have put in place to protect us?  Get rid of your radical views,these processes use a lot less water than the area's golf courses.

 So you prefer to live in a cave wothout motor transportation or electriciy while you poison the water table with firtilizer and human waste?  Many members of your group oppose the Panoche Valley Solar project; therefore, when you offer a solar soution it's really the old bait and swtich, isn't it?

Gee, I hope you're not sending your comments from a laptop, in 2002 the manufacture of a laptop generated almost 600 pounds of carbon dioxide; if you are using a lap top you obviously do not care that you are damaging the entire planet; a desktop would be worse (see how easy it is to make accusations).

If petrolem is so evil why did you group pay out of county signature gatherers "gas money" to drive here, shouldn't you have insisted that they drive electric cars when the come down from Berkley to do what's best for San Benito County?

The truth is this is more Measure G  by the back door, the lunatic fringe that has duped far too many well-intentioned, but misled, residents.

Marty Richman


Submitted by (Dana) on


With any study / report, there are limitations. The LA Times articles below provide some useful information regarding such limitations.

(See paragraphs 4, 5, 6, and 7)

If a seismic event along any sub-section of the San Andras Fault is triggered, consider the consequences for California residents. What percentage of households in California carry earthquake insurance?

"Only about 10 percent of California residents have an earthquake policy, and just 6 percent carry one in Napa County, according to the California Earthquake Authority"

Submitted by (Dana) on


Really? How do you define "radicalism"?

Possibly those who disagree with a small, well funded, group who seek to gain financially from certain types of fracking activities in San Benito County.

Submitted by (Mindy Scherr) on

There are other sources of fueling our lives than natural gas and oil. There is no replacement for clean water. Let's keep our water and county safe. There are enough first person accounts of illness and contamination from communities all around the nation where fracking has already occurred. Let's not let it happen to us. THANK YOU JOE MORRIS for clarifying that the Cattlemen's Association and the Farm Bureau do not represent all ranchers and farmers in our county. YES ON J = NO ON FRACKING.

Submitted by (Sara Steiner) on

Beware of "straw man" arguments that come from perpetrators of the lies to which Joe Morris is referring. Read the initiative for yourself, register to vote and join the coalition to vote yes on J. San Benito County is at the forefront, moving towards a brighter future!

Submitted by (jeannette langstaff) on

I am against fracking and high intensity petroleum operations, but also support sustainable, renewable solar energy and healthy jobs for people.. However, the solar project in Panoche Valley destroys the natural habitat of around 4,000 acres for native animals, family farms, greenbelt for a healthy environment -- instead, this is for money to outside interests, let alone 18,000 acre corporate takeover supposedly for mitigation. This is a too big! The Environmental Impact Report showed the option for ruined soil in Fresno zoned for such projects. Your accusation is wrong! Many of us chose solar for San Benito's energy with panels all over our own towns as is done in many places in the world successfully. I am against fracking oil and gas as well as for solar used to its best ability. We have enough gas and oil for realistic needs and must make positive decisions towards the health and welfare of all. Unfortunately, much of our politics and reports are paid for by special interests groups and their cause. That's why it takes community volunteer groups to find the truth from specialists and scholars in these sciences and health fields. Information is on and at the headquarters on 5th St. Hollister. Read the Initiative at these sites and "Vote Yes on Measure J " to Ban Fracking and other High Intensity Petroleum Practices. You will read that conventional oil drilling is allowed in all of the unincorporated San Benito, except residential zones.
Jeannette Langstaff

Submitted by (Holly Cornetto) on

Beautiful article Joe Morris!

I'm glad to see the Measure J supporters who repeatedly and publically claimed that I was employed by an oil company when they knew better, advise people to "beware of lairs" or those who claimed that oil field workers were criminals advise people to be" beware of 'straw man' arguments."

They should take thier own advice.

The BLM report said that although every incident many not have been reported (nothing in 100%) there was not a single documented case of water table contaminaton from oil operations - not one.

You can't say that for agriculture operations can you?

Both agriculture operations and septic systems pose a far greater risk to the water supply and the worst part is that the Measure J supporters KNOW that to be true, but still make the BIG LIE argument designed to terrorize the population.  The contamination in San Juan did not come from any oil well, it came from Ag and, perhaps septic.

Hopefully the public will learn the truth before being stampeded by baseless threats.  What's next, will SBR claim that the Farm Bureau is anti-agriculture?

Marty Richman

Submitted by (Will McGuire) on

Marty, you do have good advice sometimes, only it's not something you adhere to, your arguments are based on a lack of documents, So there has been no reported contamination of aquifers, therein lies the problem, the Oil Drillers in most cases nationwide aren't required to report the spills and accidents, locally how would you or anyone know of a accident if there isn't an inspector to on the scene (San Benito County doesn't have a Oil field inspector!), You scream loudly when someone accuses you of being paid by the oil companies (if it quacks like a duck), but on the other hand you regularly proclaim that SBR and the Coalition are puppets of all of the radical environmental groups (in your mind that is a smear!), in actuality we have little communication with the CBD or the Sierra Clubs, they do their thing and we do ours, the lawsuit that CBD instituted in Monterey County to stop Citadel was done there because all of the water from the Bitterwater basin drains South and West into the Salinas River Basin, so you see that really isn't our fight, we are oriented towards defending the San Benito County Environment, of course I don't expect you to let facts get in the way of your agenda, That would require you to find another windmill.

Submitted by (Sharlene Van Rooy) on

I still wish both sides would choose a representative to answer real questions from real people at a forum concerning this issue. There is so much verbiage being thrown around on the internet that one cannot truly decide what the facts are. I keep reading, but I'm no closer to making a decision than the first time I saw the sign "Don't Frack the Pinnacles". Really, I don't think anyone has any intention of doing that...just put people like myself on the defensive. Decisions, decisions...


I share your frustration. I asked both the Freelance and Benitolink to host and mediate a public forum. The Freelance was interested but then said no and I never heard back from Benitolink.

The state Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) is expected to make a presentation regarding Senate Bill 4 which regulates fracking in Calif. to the board of supervisors in the near future. 

Stay tuned and thanks for your interest. 


Submitted by (Will McGuire) on

Sharlene, It is the Political Season, according to the FFPC Commission it begins 90 days before the election, there is one "measure J" to decide whether to vote yes or no, quite simple, vote yes to Ban Fracking in San Benito County, at the top of this page is a button "Commentary" click on it and find the poll whether one will vote for or against the measure, at this time 94% of the responders say they favor voting "yes" to Ban Fracking, these are people who aren't confused, they have studied the issue and have made their decision.

The petroleum industry is spending huge amounts of money (last week another Million Dollars in San Benito County) to confuse the voters, they created their website to look like the Coalition website, they send out voter pamphlets (flyers) that look like it comes form the Coalition, they have people everywhere doing things to confuse the voters into voting "no", or at least not voting at all.

This type of voter misinformation and obfuscation is indicative they have no real argument against the measure, they have nothing for you to vote for, they just want you and other equally confused voters to cast their vote against the measure.

Come to the Coalition webpage and there is all the information you need to make a informed decision, the complete text of the measure is there for you to read, no tricks, no confusing ads to mislead you, just the facts!, just click on the link below.

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Submitted by (Beth Roybal) on

What I LOVE is how this issue has united people who are concerned about "enhanced recovery techniques," despite a range of underlying--and sometimes opposing--political beliefs. Ensuring that our water and other resources are preserved is something that "environmentalists" and "property rights" advocates and "libertarians" and "progressives" and "farmers/ranchers" and "city slickers" can all agree on and work toward--especially in San Benito County, where resources are scarce, yet critical for maintaining our way of life. All we're asking is that we take a collective step backward, take a breath, do our research, see what happens, learn more before allowing San Benito County to be used as a testing ground for technologies that have the potential to destroy what we all hold dear. Measure J isn't necessarily forever. It's a way, now, to equalize the playing field between the residents of our sparsely populated county and the outside corporations who want to extend extraction techniques without much oversight. I, for one, don't want to have to tell my grandkids in twenty years, "I'm sorry we let this happen," when perhaps a little more thought and reflection would have led to safer and wiser ways to use and protect all our resources.

Submitted by (JC Dill) on

I couldn't agree more with Joe Morris. He speaks the truth.

Almost every lie that the "no on measure J" propaganda machine spews is a truth ABOUT the "no on J" campaign. Those "outsiders who want to ruin our way of life" are the big oil companies that are funding the "no on J" campaign. Seriously, think about it. There are only 3 oil production areas in San Benito County - they can't possibly be bankrolling the extensive advertising campaign from the "no on J" side. It's outside money, it's big outside money, and they are very very afraid to see a local community ban fracking, very afraid it will lead to a groundswell of similar legislation throughout California and the US. This is what they are afraid of, and why they are pouring so much money into the propaganda you see in your mailbox and hear on the airwaves. Be smart, just say no to the REAL "outside influences" who are trying to change your way of life and vote YES on Measure J.

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