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On April 15, it was predictable “theater,” watching Armen Nahabedian, CEO of Citadel Exploration, Inc., give his presentation to the SJB City Council about the issue of “conventional drilling,” when describing the cyclic steam drilling currently taking place in the Indian Wells area in southern San Benito County.  This was a well-rehearsed performance, which did not speak to the issues of our local economy nor the threats to our environment, water quality and ultimately our health both physically and economically.  Nothing he mentioned really affected a reason to keep drilling for oil in our county.  But this is the push back we should expect, as “Big Oil” is running scared.  We, the small fries of the “climate justice movement,” are threatening their bottom line, and protesting their exploitation of not only our resources and environment, but the very fabric of our culture and lives.

          The current initiative that has garnered enough signatures to be placed on November’s ballot, to ban enhanced drilling procedures for oil and gas, including cyclic steam injection, is only applicable to San Benito County regions.  This means that Hollister and San Juan Bautista need to address this issue within their city limits.  The City Council inquired of their attorney the best approach to take to move this issue forward and were advised that they need to draft and approve an ordinance to ban these procedures.  At this time, the City Council is very concerned for the quality of our water, since two of our three wells are currently contaminated and unusable for human consumption.

          According to armennahabedian.org, Mr. Nahabedian’s record is stellar. This site states, “Following his tenure in the Marine Corps, Mr. Nahabedian returned to California, where he fulfilled an array of responsibilities that included directing oil and natural gas exploration projects in the South San Joaquin Valley. From 2004 to 2007, he maintained operational responsibility for some of the deepest drilling projects in California, and he spearheaded more than 750,000 acres of land acquisition through options and leasing.
          Armen Nahabedian also sustains an array of activities beyond his efforts with CEI. Since 2011, he has functioned as a Consultant with the Ojai-based Black Hawk Oil Co., LLC. In this capacity, he has offered expert counsel regarding issues of business development and operations. Among other accomplishments with Black Hawk Oil, Armen Nahabedian has supported the acquisition of nearly 100,000 acres of mineral leases across California.” 

          None of this is new behavior for the oil and gas drilling industry. In the late 1940’s, Clair Cameron Patterson, the scientist who developed the uranium-lead dating method to calculate the age of our Earth, also encountered lead contamination of our environment.  His work about this contamination “led to a total re-evaluation of the growth in lead concentrations in the atmosphere and human body from industrial causes…his subsequent campaigning was seminal in the banning of lead additives to gasoline and lead solder in food cans.” Due to his disclosures in 1965, the Environmental Protection Agency was led to announce in 1973 the ultimate removal of lead from all standard consumer products and particularly automotive gasoline, which was spewing lead into the atmosphere at an alarming rate.  So, the oil energy industry has once before tried to poison us with their avarice, ignoring the scientific evidence to the contrary.

          So let’s bring this to our situation today.  Bill McKibben published an essay titled “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math,” in Rolling Stone Magazine, based on straightforward arithmetic.  According to scientific consensus, “human civilization cannot survive in any recognizable form a temperature increase this century more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).  Given that we are only 1.2 degrees away from reaching this goal, we should all be very concerned.”  This global threat to our environment in the form of global warming will be far more insidious and expensive than any of us can afford.  But let’s face it, expecting fossil fuel companies to change their tune for our sake is not going to happen easily. Chris Hayes of MSNBC points out, “More acutely, when you consider the math that McKibben, the Carbon Tracker initiative and the Intergovernmental panel on Climate Change (IPCC) all lay out, you must confront the fact that the climate justice movement is demanding that an existing set of political and economic interests be forced to say goodbye to trillions of dollars of wealth.”  We can expect a global battle on this front, with our small community being part of the change that is needed.