By Bob Frusetta The Discovery Channel has a new television program called “Backyard Oil.” It depicts the supposedly modern day oil boom in the hills of south central Kentucky. Astoundingly enough, environmental concerns are never mentioned during the show. It seems as though oil production is as easy as using a dousing rod to find a likely spot in your backyard, and then calling up the drilling rig to start work the next day. Here in highly regulated California, this is not the case. While pushing San Benito County to develop new regulations controlling oil and gas development in its jurisdiction, local environmental group Aromas Cares for Our Environment (Aromas Cares) has stated that they are focused on “ensuring that sufficient safeguards are in place to protect our water supply and air quality.” Aromas Cares has told the San Benito County Board of Supervisors that it is in favor of local control. Sounds reasonable, right? Unfortunately, Aromas Cares has made the mistake of getting into bed with an extremist activist group called the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD). The CBD is a Tucson-based radical environmental group that its hometown newspaper calls a “multi-million dollar environmental litigation factory.” Also unfortunately, there is reason to believe that San Benito County is targeted as one of the well-heeled CBD’s next litigation victims. While it is admirable that Aromas Cares has taken a stand regarding the safety of San Benito’s backyard, I have no such admiration for the group they have mistakenly partnered with. The CBD is seeking the end of oil and gas development in San Benito County and California, and all the jobs, tax revenue, and economic activity that accompany it. How do we know this? Because this is what the CBD exists to do. Whether suing the Bureau of Land Management or California’s oil and gas regulators, the CBD files repeated nuisance lawsuits against government agencies and regulators in an admitted attempt to weaken the morale of those agencies and to wear them down. It was the CBD that helped contribute to the crippling unemployment in the San Joaquin Valley in its fight to protect the infamous Delta smelt. The central valley farmers that provide the food we eat weren’t as important as the Smelt. Clearly, the CBD isn’t about local control. CBD wants to further their agenda – consequences be damned. The CBD is duplicit in opposing regulations in California that it supports in other states. It employs false claims about water use in hydraulic fracturing in California in its efforts to ban hydraulic fracturing outright with its litany of demonstrably false claims. It focuses on hydraulic fracturing, it says, because it “would risk a great disaster for California’s wildlands, wildlife, water, and air quality.” Never mind that there is no evidence that this “disaster” could occur. Indeed, hydraulic fracturing has been going on in California since the 1950s with none of the ill-effects about which the CBD seeks to scare the public. San Benito County can’t stomach a protracted legal fight with one of the most radical and tenacious activist groups in the United States. Residents should understand that, like agriculture, the energy industry has been part of the backbone of our economy for more than a century, and everyone from Gov. Jerry Brown to President Obama, to state regulators and scientists understand that we can safely develop our domestic energy in an environmentally-friendly and sustainable way. If Aromas Cares simply wanted to ensure that energy development is done safely, it could have done itself and our county a big favor by not partnering with the CBD. Modern energy development is already being done with the safety of the environment in mind, and has been done safely in the county and California’s highly regulated environment for decades. County supervisors still have an opportunity to escape from the quagmire created by Aromas Cares and the Center for Biological Diversity and apply true local control. Let’s not end oil production and its accompanying tax revenues in San Benito County because of Aromas Cares’ poor judgment. Bob Frusetta is a rancher and member of the California Independent Petroleum Association.