Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, March 26, 2018

Contact:  Hollin Kretzmann, Center for Biological Diversity, (510) 844-7133,
Dr. Laura Solorio, Protect Monterey County, (831) 229-5284,
Andy Hsia-Coron, Protect Monterey County, (831) 726-3350,

Appeal Seeks to Restore Measure Z's Protections Against Oil Industry Pollution in Monterey County

MONTEREY, Calif.— Proponents of Monterey County’s landmark Measure Z ballot initiative filed an appeal today to restore the land-use protections that voters passed by an overwhelming majority in November 2016.

Today’s appeal challenges a Superior Court ruling in March that invalidated part of the ordinance, which aims to shield the county from fracking chemicals and oil industry pollution.

“We must protect our air, water and climate from dangerous oil extraction,” said Dr. Laura Solorio, a member of Protect Monterey County, the initiative’s official sponsor. “The voters made it clear that we don’t want the oil industry’s runaway expansion to threaten our health and economy. We beat the oil companies at the ballot box, and we’ll keep fighting until we beat them in court.”

Measure Z put into place restrictions on local land use that prohibit drilling new oil and gas wells, phase out wastewater disposal and ban fracking. Oil companies launched a $5.6 million multimedia campaign to stop Measure Z. Despite being outspent 18 to 1, the thousands of Protect Monterey County volunteers prevailed, and Measure Z won with 56 percent of the vote.

“We’re confident the appellate court will uphold Monterey County voters’ right to protect themselves from oil-industry pollution,” said Hollin Kretzmann, a staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The law is squarely on the side of Measure Z’s critical protections. In case after case, courts have affirmed the rights of local governments to adopt reasonable land-use measures to keep people safe.”  

After the 2016 election, Chevron, Aera Energy (owned by ExxonMobil and Shell affiliates), some small oil companies and royalty owners filed six lawsuits challenging Measure Z. Monterey County Superior Court Judge Thomas Wills suspended Measure Z’s implementation and consolidated the six lawsuits into one trial, which took place from Nov. 13 to Nov. 16.

Judge Wills rejected challenges to the fracking ban, leaving that portion of the law in place. However, he invalidated Measure Z’s prohibition on new wells and phaseout of wastewater disposal, concluding that they were preempted by state and federal law.

Protect Monterey County is an all-volunteer, grassroots group which sponsored Measure Z and is now helping to defend it in the courts.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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