San Benito Measure J Supporters to Oil Company: Shove It

In the wake of a $1.2 billion lawsuit over San Benito County’s new anti-fracking measure, Measure J supporters say they’re prepared for war.

Supervisors Robert Rivas and Anthony Botelho took to the podium at a press conference Tuesday to respond to Citadel Exploration’s legal challenge against recently-passed Measure J. The initiative, which garnered 57% of the vote on Nov. 4, bans fracking and other oil extraction methods. Both Rivas and Botelho supported it.

The supervisors took on a tone of defiance as they defended the controversial measure.

The oil companies “think they can bully our county,” Rivas said.

Measure J supporters who were in attendance sang songs in support of the new rules. A poster at the front of the microphone included the Gadsden flag and the words, “Don’t tread on San Benito” to symbolize the supporters’ resoluteness.

"The passage of Measure J is a historic event that will set our county on the right path. Measure J will be enacted as law in San Benito County, and as supervisor I will do all in my power to defend it," Botelho promised.

Citadel Exploration argues that Measure J constitutes “regulatory taking” from private property and that it is therefore entitled to over a billion dollars in compensation.

“That's like asking for the moon,” said Supervisor Jerry Muenzer, noting that the county could never foot such a bill. If the company were to succeed, the county would file for bankruptcy, he said.

County attorneys are currently reviewing the lawsuit. They have 30 days to respond.

Read more about Tuesday’s press conference here.