COMMENTARY: San Benito County and Energy Independence

Will San Benito County do its share for American energy independence?

As San Benito County prepares to vote on whether or not to do its fair share towards supporting the nation’s energy independence, it might be enlightening to see where the county presently stands on energy production and use. The U.S.A., California, and even San Benito County all use more energy than they produce.  In 2012, California had the largest energy deficit (consumption minus production) of any state in the nation. Our state shortage was 1.5 times the one in second place, Florida.

In 2009, San Benito County produced less than 9,500 barrels of oil. That would refine to about 95,000 gallons of diesel and 180,500 gallons of gasoline.  In 2008 San Benito sold 1.47 million gallons of diesel fuel and 2009 gasoline retail sales in San Benito County were 16 million gallons.

That means the county produced only 6.5 percent of the crude needed for its diesel and a piddling 1.1 percent of the crude needed for the gasoline sold, overwhelmingly, to local residents based on station locations. San Benito County also produces less than 2 percent of the natural gas it uses in a year.

We make up the difference by importing energy into the state, the portion that crude pays foreign suppliers $78.5 million a day – money often going to unfriendly regimes. Canada and Mexico are America’s biggest foreign oil suppliers, but not for imports to California. In 2013 the top three foreign sources supplying the state were Saudi Arabia 29.5 percent of imports (84.7 million barrels, bbl.), Ecuador 22.3 percent (63.8 million bbl.), and Iraq 18.6 percent (53.1 million bbl.). Canada was only 5.9 percent and Mexico less than 0.7 percent. California is heavily dependent on Gulf oil – 50 percent of imports overall when you count Kuwait and for instability don’t forget the 2 percent from Russia.

Before yelling “go solar” you need to be reminded that many Measure J supporters opposed the PV2 Solar Project; their lawsuits slowed the project and ran up the costs. Having lost in court, they are now working to have state agencies deny permits for PV2.

Whether you’re a person or a county you can’t just be a user, especially when you have a capability to contribute and the risks are tiny and getting smaller all the time. You have to do your part if you can, not everyone has the opportunity.

The people of San Benito County have to ask themselves if they are willing to let their loved ones die to protect the draining of our treasury for foreign oil because they have been intimidated by fear mongers many of whom have ulterior motives

It’s your choice and your consequences.


Marty Richman

Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Marty (Martin G.) spent his teen years in northern New Jersey. He served more than 22 years on active military duty, mostly in Europe, and is a retired U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 4, Nuclear Weapons Technical Officer. Marty then worked 25 years in various engineering and management positions in the electronics and energetic materials industries supporting the communications, computer, aerospace, defense and automotive sectors. He is a graduate, summa cum laude, from The College of Hard Knocks, among his numerous awards and accomplishments. He was a regular weekly Op/Ed columnist and feature writer for The Hollister Free Lance for seven years and a member of its editorial board for five years. Marty is a frequent commentator and contributor to BenitoLink on a wide variety of local, state, national and international subjects.   Marty was elected to represent the City of Hollister District 4 on the City Council in November, 2018. Marty and his wife, Joyce, have been residents of Hollister since 1996.