SAN FRANCISCO — The California Supreme Court will hear arguments Thursday in a lawsuit that will determine whether a Monterey County local ordinance banning new oil and gas wells and phasing out wastewater disposal preempts state law.

Lawyers for Protect Monterey County, the official supporter 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 authority to make such decisions.

“Voters have said loud and clear that we want to move Monterey County away from dirty fossil fuels and toward a healthy future,” said Dr. Laura Solario, a Measure Z supporter and caseworker. “Enough of 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 preempt local laws that restrict land use, such as those enacted 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 Kretzman, 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, the Stanford Environmental Law Clinic and the Center for Biological Diversity.

Measure Z Rally

What: Measure Z supporters rally in support of Monterey County’s ban on new drilling and fracking ahead of a state Supreme Court hearing.

If: Noon, Thursday, May 25, 2023

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

World Health Organization: Speakers include former Sen. Pro Tem Bill Moning and leaders of Protect Monterey County.

Arguments of the Supreme Court of California

What: Oral arguments in Chevron USA and others. v. Monterey Countycase number 271869

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

Where: Supreme Court of California. Judges and lawyers will speak only in virtual mode. A live stream will be available on the California Supreme Court website:

World Health Organization: Kevin Bundy, a partner at Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger, will speak on behalf of Protect Monterey County and Dr. Laura Solario.


Measure Z, approved by voters in 2016, banned the drilling of 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, Protect Monterey County advocates mobilized thousands of supporters and Measure Z won with 56% of the vote.

Monterey County’s oil mainly comes from the San Arda oil field, which produces some of the most climate-damaging oil in the world, comparable to the Canadian tar sands. Its heavy consistency at the bottom of the well means that oil companies use dangerous methods such as steam injection to extract the oil. These processes require significant amounts of energy and lead to much more air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.


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