“Our Victory Is Your Victory”

by Ivy Schlegel

September 16, 2014

This is a guest blog written by Andy Hsia-Coron of Coalition to Protect San Benito, part of the Californians Against Fracking coalition (of which Greenpeace is also a member). Coalition to Protect San Benito is a passionate group of farmers, ranchers, vintners, doctors, nurses, and concerned residents fighting to ban dangerous fracking processes in San Benito County.


A battle is raging in San Benito County that will determine if our county and California will stay frack-free. This fall, residents of San Benito County will have a chance to ban fracking and extreme oil extraction to protect our countys water, air and health.

Although Californians overwhelming supported proposed a statewide moratorium on fracking (which would have immediately stopped fracking until further studies on safety), the state legislature declined and Governor Brown signed a very weak bill (SB 4) that essentially allows rampant fracking. Brown reportedly accepted oil and gas industry contributions totaling over $2 million, and The Western States Petroleum Association — an association of oil companies including BP, Chevron, Occidental, and Tesoro among others — spent $1,456,785 alone in the first three months of 2014. These contributions are just a small chunk of the nearly $15 million dollars the oil lobby spent in California in the 2013-2014 legislative session. Chevron topped campaign contributions with $71.2 million.

With oil money pouring into the statehouse, the local battle is one of the ways to victory, just as in New York State where more than 200 localities have banned fracking, forcing their governor to continue a statewide moratorium. When our victory inspires other counties and cities across California to enact bans on fracking, we will create a tipping point for this state. We can stop fracking in the Golden State and help to swing the tide nationwide against fracking.

Thanks to Californias initiative process, Protect San Benito and other grassroots activists in San Benito County have successfully qualified our anti-fracking ballot measure for the November election.


Even in this year’s drought, heavenly Hernandez Valley remains verdant

San Benito County is a beautiful place. Its home to the nation’s newest national park, Pinnacles National Park, along with state parks, an historical mission town, the highest percentage of organic agriculture of any county in California and several wineries. However, it is entirely dependent on groundwater, which could be contaminated by fracking. The hazardous chemicals used in fracking have been linked to cancer, birth defects, miscarriages, and infertility. Children and the elderly are especially at risk from the pollutants that cause asthma and other respiratory ailments.

San Benito County is one of countless amazing regions of California counting on clean water for important industry and the health of its citizens. We have to protect it from reckless fracking.

steam injection

Metal pipes traverse the oil field; the sliver loops indicate steam injection

This will be a peoples victory, with the help of not just Californians, but folks across the country, supporting these grassroots efforts. It is Californias and the nations fight. Our victory in November will create a movement of cities and counties rejecting fracking , a movement that will spread across California and from coast to coast. Already, fracking bans are on the ballot in several California counties including Mendocino, and Santa Barbara.

Big oil knows this and has pumped more than a million dollars into our small county to stop us. They are burying voters with deceptive ads, phone calls, mailers, and billboards. We have an army of volunteers who are tirelessly knocking on doors and talking to their friends and neighbors to win the Yes vote. But anti-fracking initiatives like Protect San Benito will need broad support to match Big Oils resources.


The massive Coalinga oil field, with pumpjacks bobbing up and down in all directions

Protect San Benito invites you to join the movement to stop fracking in San Benito, California and across the nation! San Benitos fight is your fight — and our victory will be your victory. Learn more about how you can help support these efforts:

Ivy Schlegel

By Ivy Schlegel

Ivy Schlegel was a senior research specialist with Greenpeace USA plastics team, focusing on strategic corporate research, the petrochemical and plastic value chains, and health and climate impacts of plastic production. Prior to joining the plastics team, Ivy worked on Greenpeace USA's forest work focusing on Indonesian palm oil and other forest-based commodities. Ivy worked with Greenpeace USA from 2009-2021.

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