Conservation Groups File Appeal in Lifting of Fracking Ban

(CN) – In the fight against fracking along the Pacific Coast, conservation groups in Monterey County have filed an appeal to uphold a measure that would block all future oil and gas extraction projects.

Protect Monterey Bay filed their appeal in Monterey County Superior Court on Monday in an effort to reverse Judge Thomas Wills’ ruling that said the voter-approved ban on drilling new oil and gas extraction wells and water injection wells conflicts with the state’s Underground Injection Control Program, which pre-empts the county’s authority on the matter.

In 2016, the conservation groups intervened in a lawsuit with Monterey County. Two lawsuits, including one by fuel giant Chevron, were filed after voters approved the ban on fracking in what is called Measure Z.

In the end, six lawsuits involving hundreds of plaintiffs were consolidated into a single case, which went to trial over four days last year.

In his decision, Wills said the federal Safe Drinking Water Act is intended to regulate and not prohibit energy production and other commercial uses.

Conservation groups said while the courts found in their favor to let the voter-approved measure stand, it did not prohibit new operations from setting up.

Attorney Hollin Kretzmann with the Center for Biological Diversity is representing Protect Monterey County. He said the court of appeals will be looking at whether federal and state law pre-empts the local zoning code in Monterey County.

“This falls in line with a long history of California case precedent where local government can protect its communities from oil and gas pollution,” Kretzmann said.

At the time of the court decision, Chevron said it intended to defend the ruling in the appeals court, stating that the local zoning measure was a ban on production techniques and not a land-use regulation.


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