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Sat Apr 12 2014 (Updated 04/22/14)San Benito County Residents Halfway to Signature Goal for Fracking Ban Initiative
Sat Apr 12 2014 (Updated 04/22/14)Community Members Hope to Be First "Frontline" County in California to Ban Fracking
Community members in San Benito are hoping they will be the first "frontline" county in California to ban fracking and other methods of extreme oil and gas extraction. Since late March, volunteers across the county have begun collecting signatures for a fracking ban initiative they hope to have on the ballot in November. Progress is moving quickly; after two weeks of collecting signatures, the organization San Benito Rising announced they were nearly halfway through their drive.
Members of San Benito Rising filed the notice of intent to circulate the petition with the county clerk in late February. That notice states that they have begun the process in hopes of "protecting the county’s groundwater supplies and preserving its rural heritage." They believe the county is at a "tipping point" and hope the fracking ban will prevent the possibility of what they call a "proliferation of proposals" to conduct hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and other high-intensity petroleum operations in the county’s unincorporated areas. The initiative to ban fracking, if passed by voters, will prohibit the use of any land within the county’s unincorporated area for fracking and other high-intensity petroleum operations. The initiative will also prohibit the use of land for any petroleum operations within the county’s unincorporated residential areas.
Residents consider San Benito to be a "frontline" community because they currently have oil and gas drilling in their county, which sits on top of the Monterey Shale formation. In the county there are many dry or abandoned oil wells near San Juan Bautista, and near Hollister there are active wells, in addition to many that are dry or abandoned. In 2013, environmentalists began fighting a proposal to bring oil operations in endangered Condor habitat near Pinnacles National Park. San Benito Rising is concerned that the oil and gas industry could re-stimulate the abandoned, old wells in their area using new extreme drilling techniques such as cyclic steam injection, acid fracking, and acid matrix stimulation.
Read More with Photos | Update (4/22): San Benito Residents Reach Fracking Ban Signature Goal | San Benito Rising
Previous Related Indybay Feature: Lawsuit Targets San Benito County's Approval of 15 Oil Wells in Endangered Condor Habitat