Editorial: Deception defines measure against fracking, petroleum

This sign along Fourth Street represents the debate over fracking in the county. It turns out, there was never a proposal to frack in Pinnacles National Park.

A group’s attempt to ban fracking and severely restrict all petroleum production in San Benito County is nothing more than extremist politics in an attempt to push the anti-fossil fuel agenda.
That group, calling itself San Benito Rising, is using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, as a smoke screen to tug at mainstream voters’ emotions and dilute any chance of a genuine debate. The organization’s members won’t admit it outright, because that would spoil their narrative, but they are pushing to effectively shut down all petroleum production in the county. It says so in the fine print of their petition – which would ban fracking but also prohibit petroleum activities “on all lands designated Rural, Rural Transitional, Rural Residential, Rural/Urban, and Sphere of Influence Rural/Urban, within the County’s unincorporated area.” That covers the vast majority of the unincorporated county, which is everything outside Hollister and San Juan Bautista, and all but kills any prospect for oil or gas development in an economically distraught community.
As for fracking, there isn’t a single project proposed in San Benito County that would use the extraction method. If the petition headed to the November ballot was about fracking, it wouldn’t have included the additional provisions to ban all types of petroleum activities in most areas of unincorporated San Benito County. The use of the emotionally charged buzzword is merely a way of deceiving the voting public in order to push the anti-petroleum agenda.
If there is a sure guarantee between now and November, it is that the San Benito Rising campaign will continue its focus on the “F” word while completely avoiding the truth about the initiative’s details. Their protest signs will alert area drivers to the supposed evils of fracking – which is supported by the Obama Administration and under a state environmental review set for completion in 2015 – but will mention nothing about their thinly veiled disregard for all types of fossil fuels. That same tenor will define their messages relayed at county government meetings, on street corners and in living rooms across the county.
San Benito Rising represents fringe-level politics at its worst. The group’s unabated willingness to deceive – in the name of a purely political agenda – makes it all the more important that voters get educated before November and reject this measure.

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