With the 10-year anniversary of Measure J’s victory fast approaching, I write this letter to acknowledge a debt of gratitude to all of those who stood up against Big Oil. 

I owe an especially large debt of gratitude to all of the former members of San Benito Rising. And I owe the most and highest gratitude to those local residents who started it all, those core members of San Benito Rising. 

Today, these defenders now form the core of the Campaign to Protect San Benito, a name given to them by Robert Rivas shortly before they went up against Big Oil. I’ve met a few of these people. They are some of the nicest, most down-to-earth folks you could ever meet. 

I was just a kid when the battle began. I didn’t know much at the time. But, I knew that a powerful evil was coming from over the horizon. 

Being a kid, I knew that there wasn’t much I could do about our situation but watch it unfold. Fatalism is a terrible thing, especially when it affects the youth. But I understood that nobody can beat the unbeatable. 

I resigned myself to the fact that I was going to grow up in a ravaged environment. Fracking was coming to my home, and I was just going to have to live with the looming reality of growing up with poisoned drinking water, living in a toxic landscape, breathing polluted air. 

Nobody would save us. Nobody could save us. 

Or, so I had thought. Little did I know, we had been assigned a handful of guardian angels and a lucky star. Against all odds, the county slowly but steadily began to rise against Big Oil. But, the defenders still faced impossible odds.

They were up against an industry that was notoriously sneaky, underhanded, and had earned itself a reputation for abusing its vast power. Undeterred, the people pushed hard to secure a lasting liberty from exploitation, and Measure J passed. Victory! 

But, it wasn’t over yet. Big Oil came back with a billion-dollar lawsuit to intimidate our county and its residents. If we lost, the vast penalties would ruin us. Their message was clear: surrender or die. The people rejected this message in full. 

Not only did we refuse to surrender, we also refused to die. Our community maintained a valiant stand in defiance against Big Oil’s terrible rage. We won again. Almost immediately after the lawsuit was filed, it was dropped. The battle was over. We beat the unbeatable Big Oil. 

For their efforts, I am grateful for these folks. I always will be. It is not too often that history takes the side of outmatched defenders. But, every once in a while, destiny chooses the few who defy impossibility in the name of liberty and justice. 

They say history is written by the winners. What they don’t tell you is that history’s champions are always standing defenders. Those who stand for peace, for home, for liberty, and for community deserve our gratitude. Those who stand against the impossible deserve our admiration.

I’m sure some of you nice folks are reading this now. I want to say thanks. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Thank you for my health, for my home, and for my community. 

Thank you for defending me and others like me when we couldn’t defend ourselves. Thank you. 

Joseph Howard

San Benito County

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  1. What a wonderful way of saying THANK YOU!!
    With so much sincerity. looking through a child’s eyes and now an adult!
    Thank you , Joseph!!

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  2. Thank you, Joseph, for recognizing and appreciating the past efforts of Campaign to Protect San Benito. Showing your appreciation for the clean air you breath, the clear water you drink, and the uncontaminated soil our food grows in, makes the ongoing fight to preserve and protect the rural beauty of the wide open ranch lands, the abundant orchards and fields that feed the nation, a worthwhile, though difficult challenge.

    Once again, on November 5th, the people of San Benito County will be called upon to defend their quality of life. Your own young children might look back to this time and this critical issue and be very glad you chose to continue to protect San Benito County, just as Joseph has done.

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  3. Thanks Robert from a person you don’t know but who stands with you. I could feel your sincerity as I read your very positive letter. Caring as practiced on your level is a thing sorely lacking right now, and I read your words as a kind of “pep talk”.
    “Big fill-in-your-whatever” are the bane of any economic vision that attempts to uplift everyone of every economic status. These are robot corporations playing a board game with communities as the pieces.
    We often feel powerless against these monstrous creations of unregulated capitalism. Folks like you and the people you acknowledge here are a leadership from below that will challenge the Business as Usual cohort.
    But if regular people will simply follow their hearts and do the research they will find that the ripping off of San Benito is only in its early stages.
    Can you envision the cargo jets coming into our airport? The truck traffic resulting from our new highways contributing to the stress levels most of us endure today? What the heck is Fairview going to be like? How do we 4 lane that!? Shore Road, Frazier Lake? Union Road, 4th street, San Benito out to 152?
    Those are “done deals”. There’s no crying in politics….but there is dissent.
    Support No On K
    Claire and Terry Butler
    Meadowlark Nursery

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