Letter: Why I strongly oppose Measure J

I strongly oppose Measure J because it is a bait and switch initiative based on junk science and it’s bad public policy that could open the county to millions of dollars in lawsuits and payments.
The bait and switch is that Measure bans fracking, but fails to tell voters it also bans all enhanced oil and gas recovery – fracking or not – including some methods the state does not classify as “well stimulation” (fracking). Additionally, in some areas Measure J bans all oil and gas recovery in a cynical attempt to secure local votes at the taxpayers’ expense.
If these were a serious public health or environmental threat I would support Measure J, but they are not.  A recent 400-page technical report commissioned by the U.S. Government BLM concluded: “…the direct impacts of well stimulation technology appear to be relatively limited for industry practice of today and will likely be limited in the future if proper management practices are followed.” YouTube videos are not science, the scientific report rejects untraceable and unconfirmed claims as “opinion.”
To guard against any adverse health or environmental impacts the state also passed Senate Bill 4 in September, 2013.  It is undoubtedly the toughest oil and gas stimulations environmental bill in the nation requiring detailed reports, testing, public information and notifications.  The state has already issued many interim rules and regulations with more  to come by January, 2015.
Just look around, Monterey County has several hundred enhanced wells, many for 40 or 50 years, and none of the dire, sky-is-falling, predictions have come true; no poisoned people or aquifers, no water issues (their process actually makes fresh water from brine), no soaring crime rate near the oil fields, and they have thriving agriculture, wine, and tourist industries – much healthier than ours.
Next, is the very real threat of expensive lawsuits for taking private property without good cause, compensation, and in violation of the state environmental regulations; this could cost county taxpayers millions.
Finally, there is the economic issue – local poverty will ruin the health, produce crime, and foul the environment far in excess of any well-controlled oil operations.  We have to have energy independence, jobs, and taxes from these safe and necessary operations to move ahead as a community.
Think first, then Vote NO on J, it’s too important for an emotional decision.
Marty Richman, Hollister

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