In response to concerns about the safety and environmental impacts of certain oil and gas industry practices in Monterey County, clinic client Protect Monterey County successfully galvanized the community into action. The result was Measure Z, a 2016 ballot initiative that bans new fracking, prohibits new oil wells, and phases out oil-industry wastewater disposal.
In spite of a $5.6 million campaign waged by big oil companies to defeat Measure Z, our client spurred unprecedented voter turnout and the ballot measure passed with 56% of the vote. Undeterred, Chevron, Aera Energy (owned by ExxonMobil and Shell) and others filed suit to quash the ban. ELC, along with the Center for Biological Diversity and Robins Kaplan LLP, took up the fight to uphold these critical protections for the Monterey community.
In particular, Savannah Fletcher (JD/MS ’18) argued at a four-day trial against a team of over two dozen, seasoned lawyers. The trial court upheld the fracking ban, but struck down the ban on new oil and gas wells and wastewater disposal, finding that these portions are preempted by state and federal law.
State and federal law has long recognized broad local authority to regulate to protect the health, safety and general welfare of a community. ELC is standing by our client to ensure that local, democratic efforts to do just that are not undermined by big oil’s drive to boost bottom lines.