California county votes to ban fracking

California county votes to ban fracking
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Voters in a county on California’s coast passed a ballot measure to ban hydraulic fracturing and put other limits on oil and natural gas drilling within its borders.

Monterey County’s Measure Z passed Tuesday night, 55 percent to 45 percent, the San Jose Mercury News reports.

The victory came despite millions of dollars spent in opposition to the ballot measure by major oil companies like Chevron Corp. and Aera Energy.

It’s the latest in a string of local bans on fracking, including those in six California counties.  Monterey County’s fracking back is unique, however, because it is a significant oil drilling area.

The measure bans fracking as well as new oil drilling and wastewater injection, the Mercury News said.

Environmentalists applauded its passage.

“David beat Goliath in Monterey County’s stunning victory against oil industry pollution,” Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute, told the newspaper.

“Despite spending millions, oil companies couldn’t suppress this grassroots campaign,” she said. “This triumph against fracking will inspire communities across California and the entire nation to stand up to this toxic industry.”

The measure benefitted from some endorsements from high-profile figures including presidential candidate Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOPINION | They told us to abandon ObamaCare — then came the resistance OPINION | Shailene Woodley: US should run on renewable energy by 2050 Gore: Progressive ideas 'gaining ground' among Democrats MORE (D), actor Leonardo DiCaprio and major liberal figures.

The oil industry said the victory is an alarming development in what companies see as a strategic attempt to shut down fossil fuel use.

“It’s very concerted, it’s very strategic, and it has less to do about fracking and more to do with ending oil production,” said Karen Hanretty, a spokeswoman for campaign opposing the measure.