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Term: “wag the dog”
Definition: When something of secondary importance improperly takes on the role of something of primary importance.

San Benito Rising, through subterfuge, misinformation and deception, wants voters to believe that existing and future petroleum production in San Benito County is so dangerous and harmful to the environment and public health that virtually all operations must be stopped by a vote of the people.

Now that the June primary elections are behind us, we need to look to the November election and educate ourselves on the facts of the San Benito Rising proposed energy ban. And we need local leadership to take a position on this issue whether they support San Benito Rising or not. True, one local supervisor supports the ban. But other supervisors need to find the courage to support the status quo process that has enabled petroleum exploration firms to do business here in San Benito County.

I have learned that politicians are afraid of the “F” word: ‘Fracking’. Public polling shows that 70 percent of likely voters don’t like and don’t want to support hydraulic fracturing due to successful negative spin doctoring employed by environmentalists. The very sound of the word ‘fracking’ sounds bad and seems to be a negative connotation to most people, even though we all use petroleum energy to fuel our cars, surf the Web, power our cell phones, heat our homes, cook our food, broadcast TV and keep the lights on after dark. And we count on the government to regulate the energy market and advocate for consumers for affordable pricing of gas and oil.

We, as citizens, take it for granted that the energy market system works as well as it does and that energy production is creating jobs, reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil, lowering energy prices and improving the economy. These are all good things.

San Benito Rising follows a national environmentalist agenda that paints a negative picture of energy production, preaches about oil money corruption, unfair government subsidies and cites questionable propaganda movies that show flaming kitchen faucets purportedly tied to the hydraulic fracturing process without peer reviewed scientific analysis. And they warn that energy production in San Benito County will pollute/contaminate the local water supply even though existing natural gas/oil wells have never done so.

The federal EPA recognizes that carbon pollution is a major cause of climate change/global warning. The EPA also recognizes that there are recoverable reserves of natural gas in the United States that have a much smaller carbon footprint than coal-fired power plants. The EPA is partnering with states to promote flexible policies that will reduce carbon pollution by 30% by 2030. Building new natural gas power plants and improving the natural gas infrastructure will create more American jobs and reduce air pollution across the nation.

Local government should be proud of its position supporting its land-use planning decisions and revised environmental policy regarding petroleum production in San Benito County. Supervisors should defend the status quo process that enabled petroleum exploration in San Benito County and help educate voters about the safety and benefits of creating energy production jobs here.

And voters should know that San Benito Rising is trying to “wag the dog” in order to ban safe and legal enterprises that have invested money in San Benito County which will help diversify the local economy. With the advent of Senate Bill 4 signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown last year, California and San Benito County will have the strictest environmental protection policy in the United States in regulating the hydraulic fracturing process. Petroleum exploration and production, which already employs more than 100,000 people in California, will continue to be the safest and environmentally sound practice to improve domestic energy supplies and lower energy prices for families and businesses while increasing tax revenues to government.

San Benito County has recoverable oil and natural gas reserves that ranchers, farmers and property owners have the right to harvest as a natural resource. Let the free market identify the problems and solutions to finding available water resources such as Hollister’s reclaimed/sewer water during the market research/analysis with which to facilitate energy production in the county. 

Voters should consider, on balance, the risks and opportunities that future energy production will have on our economy and community.