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California Supreme Court to Hear Arguments Over Monterey Oil, Gas Drilling Restrictions

by Center for Biological Diversity
Residents to Rally at Local Courthouse in Support of Measure Z
SAN FRANCISCO, May 24, 2023 — The California Supreme Court will hear arguments Thursday in a lawsuit that will determine whether Monterey County’s local ordinance banning new oil and gas wells and phasing out wastewater disposal is preempted by state laws.

Attorneys for Protect Monterey County, the official proponent of the 2016 Measure Z initiative, will argue that the voter-approved restrictions on oil and gas development are a valid use of longstanding local power to make such decisions.

“Voters were loud and clear that we want to move Monterey County away from dirty fossil fuels and toward a healthy future,” said Dr. Laura Solorio, a Measure Z backer and an intervenor in the case. “Enough with the oil industry lawsuits standing between us and our right to a clean community.”

The state Supreme Court’s review of the case will focus on whether state laws override local laws that restrict land uses like those passed in Measure Z.

“Local governments have always had the ability to protect their residents from the dangers of oil and gas pollution, and Measure Z is no different,” said Hollin Kretzmann, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute.

Protect Monterey County is represented by Shute Mihaly & Weinberger LLP, Robins Kaplan LLC, Stanford Environmental Law Clinic, and the Center for Biological Diversity.


2016’s voter-approved Measure Z prohibited drilling new oil and gas wells, phased out wastewater disposal and banned fracking in Monterey County. Oil companies launched a $5.4 million legal and multimedia campaign to stop it. Despite being outspent 18 to 1, advocates with Protect Monterey County mobilized thousands of supporters and Measure Z won with 56% of the vote.

Monterey County’s oil largely comes from the San Ardo oilfield, which produces some of the most climate-damaging oil in the world, comparable to the Canadian tar sands. Its heavy, bottom-of-the-barrel consistency means oil companies use dangerous techniques like steam injection to extract the crude. These processes require substantial amounts of energy and lead to much higher air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Measure Z Rally

What: Measure Z backers rally to support Monterey County’s ban on new drilling and fracking in advance of state Supreme Court hearing.

When: Noon, Thursday, May 25, 2023

Where: Monterey County Superior Court, Salinas Courthouse, 240 Church St., Salinas, CA 93901

Who: Speakers include former California Senate Majority Leader Bill Monning and leaders of Protect Monterey County.

California Supreme Court Arguments

What: Oral arguments in Chevron USA et al. v. County of Monterey, Case No. 271869

When: 1:30 p.m., Thursday, May 25, 2023

Where: California Supreme Court. Judges and attorneys will appear via virtual hearing only. Livestream will be available through the California Supreme Court’s website:

Who: Kevin Bundy, partner at Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger, will argue on behalf of Protect Monterey County and Dr. Laura Solorio.

Photo: San Ado Oil Fields, San Ardo, California by Drew Bird Photography.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
by Center for Biological Diversity
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