Monterey County defended its voter approved fracking ban in court, and got a split decision. Now the question is whether the county has a responsibility to appeal that decision.
Protect Monterey County says yes. That’s the grassroots group that got Measure Z on the ballot in the first place. On Tuesday, about 15 of its members attended the Board of Supervisors’ meeting, urging them to appeal.
Protect Monterey County’s Andy Hsia-Coron says it’s the county’s duty to continue defending it.
“It’s written in the initiative itself, that they have to defend it, and it would be pretty weak tea if they decided after one decision that the gig was up,” says Hsia-Coron.
That one decision came in late December when Monterey County Superior Court Judge Thomas Wills decided that just the fracking ban stands. He struck down Measure Z’s ban on wastewater injection and drilling new wells, saying those are unconstitutional. So it pretty much means business as usual for the county’s oil industry.
Protect Monterey County will appeal the judge’s decision, but wants the county to do so too. Monterey County Counsel Charles McKee says its obligation to defend Measure Z ended with the trial. But the Monterey County Board of Supervisors will ultimately decide whether or not to appeal. That decision could be months away.
“It’s going to be a significant amount of time. First, the judge’s order is not final yet. And I don’t expect a decision on appeal until the judge’s order is final,” says McKee.
So far, the county’s defense of Measure Z has cost nearly $1 million.