The elections on November 8 featured several climate initiatives including Washington state’s carbon tax and Florida’s anti-solar disguised-as-solar initiative. Neither passed, which was a positive for environmentalists who understood the implications surrounding each proposal. One measure in California, however, did pass—and few are celebrating, though there arguably is cause for it.
Measure Z in Monterey County passed with more than 55 percent of the vote. It places a ban on new fracking and other extractive drilling processes while phasing out all existing land use for the purpose of extractive drilling. This is the seventh county ban so far in the state, but the first for a major oil-producing one.
Monterey County is also roughly 75 percent people of color and 30 percent of its population are immigrants (13 percent who are undocumented). Most have come to California from Mexico, El Salvador, the Philippines, Guatemala and Honduras. They have been the ones risking water contamination and breathing in toxic air that too often results from fossil fuel extraction. Monterey County currently has no fracking, but it produces the state’s fourth largest supply of oil and gas through other drilling processes.
The Monterey County Counsel wrote, according to Ballotpedia:
Litigation concerning the measure, if approved, is almost certain. Litigation would include claims of preemption and taking. Significant County resources would be necessary to defend against such claims. Significant resources may also be necessary to process the takings exemption before the Board and address claims of Vested Rights.
In 2015, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors rejected a ban, which prompted community groups to leave it to the voters.