Environmentalists Celebrate the Likely End of Fracking in Monterey County

Pump jacks and wells are seen in an oil field on the Monterey Shale formation where gas and oil extraction use hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, (David McNew/Getty Images)

Environmentalists hope the last frack has happened in Monterey County. Measure Z, which would ban the contentious oil and gas drilling technique, was leading with 56 percent of the vote as of Wednesday afternoon.

“David beat Goliath in Monterey,” says Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity‚Äôs Climate Law Institute. “It shows the power of grass-roots movements to overcome even unlimited spending by the world’s largest polluters.”

Oil and gas companies outspent backers of Measure Z, the ban on fracking and other oil and gas extraction methods, by 30-to-1.

About 1,200 existing oil wells near San Ardo and in the Salinas Valley could prevail under Measure Z, and in five years underground wastewater injection would be prohibited.

Monterey County produces 4 percent of California’s oil, and it’s the fourth-largest oil-producing county in the state. This would be the seventh California county to ban fracking.

Siegel calls the local battle an imperative step to solve the climate crisis. “We know we need to transition to 100 percent clean renewable energy.”

The No on Measure Z campaign released a statement declaring disappointment in the results so far because they say hundreds of local jobs and millions of dollars in local revenue would be at risk.

But an even larger fight looms. Siegel has her eyes on a statewide ban. “We have a plan to phase out the existing enormous, enormous production here, and we are not going to go away until we have real protections for Californians.”

The coalition leading efforts for a statewide ban is Californians Against Fracking.


Environmentalists Celebrate the Likely End of Fracking in Monterey County 9 November,2016Lesley McClurg

  • Richard Solomon

    Be careful about viewing Gov Brown as an environmentalist. While he has admittedly done many things that are pro-environment, he has not when it comes to fracking. Eg, he has allowed oil and gas companies to dump billions of waste water into the ocean without voicing a word of concern. He has not even supported legis!action, let alone led the way, when it comes to doing such things as that the companies reveal all the chemicals used in their cocktail which gets injected into the earth, feqhiring safer sgorage of the toxic waste water which is left afterwards, etc. He has refused to back a state wide ban on fracking. So Individual counties or cities are left to doing such things on their own.


Lesley McClurg

Lesley McClurg reports for KQED Science primarily on medical and mental health with a sprinkling of stories about space, environmental toxins and food.

If there’s a natural disaster brewing Lesley can usually be found right in the midst of a catastrophe. She’s reported on disastrous floods, fires, droughts and earthquakes.

Her work is regularly rebroadcast on NPR and PBS. She is an Edward R. Murrow and Emmy award winning journalist. The Society of Environmental Journalists recognized her beat coverage of California’s historic drought.

Before joining KQED in 2016, she reported for Capital Public Radio, Colorado Public Radio, KUOW and KCTS in Seattle.

You can find her on Twitter at @lesleywmcclurg.

You can find her KQED medical science stories, her environment stories, and general news stories.

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