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Monterey Formation Lawsuit:
Implications for the Oil and Gas Industry

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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt
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The Monterey Formation lawsuit has garnered significant attention as a legal battle with potentially far-reaching consequences for the oil and gas industry.

Delving into the intricacies of this lawsuit sheds light on the environmental concerns at stake and reveals the legal challenges and strategies employed by both sides.

As a legal attorney with almost a decade of experience in environmental law, I will provide a thorough overview of the claims, arguments, and context at the heart of this dispute.

Quick Summary

  • The Monterey Formation Lawsuit is a legal dispute addressing California’s ecological repercussions of oil and gas extraction.
  • It seeks to protect endangered species and habitats from the threats posed by oil and gas activities, with potential implications for industry standards & environmental laws.
  • The lawsuit’s status remains uncertain as it progresses through the appeals process.

What Is The Monterey Formation Lawsuit?

A lawyer reading the Monterey formation lawsuitThe Monterey Formation lawsuit is a legal dispute addressing the ecological repercussions of oil and gas extraction from the Monterey Formation, a geological formation located in the Monterey Peninsula, California, that contains significant amounts of fossil fuels.

The Center for Biological Diversity initiated the lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management, accusing them of neglecting wildlife protection from fracking in the Monterey Shale [1].

In addition, oil companies and other industry-friendly plaintiffs have initiated lawsuits against Measure Z, a local ordinance that prohibits land uses supporting new oil and gas wells.

The lawsuit has brought forth several legal arguments and rulings, with the court’s verdict on Measure Z deeming it invalid due to conflicting restrictions with state oil and gas laws.

Consequently, Dr. Solorio and Protect Monterey County have petitioned the California Supreme Court to review the appeal and potentially reverse the lower court’s ruling.

What Is The Monterey Formation?

The Monterey Formation is an organic-rich marine deposit in southern California, formed during the Miocene Epoch between 16 and 6 million years ago.

Composed of a thick sequence of shale, sandstone, and limestone, the formation serves as a source and reservoir for petroleum in California [2].

Related Article: Green River Formation Lawsuit

Who Are The Plaintiffs And Defendants?

The plaintiffs and defendants in the Monterey Formation lawsuit are environmental groups and residents concerned about the ecological impacts of oil and gas extraction activities in the region.

The defendants are oil and gas companies operating in the Monterey Formation, accused of violating environmental laws and posing significant threats to endangered species and their habitats.

Related ArticleOil Field Accident Lawsuit Update

Monterey Formation Lawsuit Overview

A judge gavel and some lawsuit documentsThe Monterey Formation lawsuit pertains to a local ordinance known as Measure Z, which prohibits land uses that would support new oil and gas wells.

Oil companies and other mineral rights holders challenged this ordinance and settled in 2018.

The Center for Biological Diversity has proactively protected the environment and species in the Monterey Formation.

They have filed a lawsuit against the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management for failing to review decades-old plans for offshore oil and against California oil regulators for approving around two dozen new oil and gas wells in Los Angeles.

“A fracking boom could push some of California’s most beloved endangered species over the edge. That’s bad for wildlife, and it’s a tremendous breach of trust.”
Brendan Cummings, Director at The Center For Biological Diversity

Key Trial Court Rulings

A court gavel and justice scale

One of the significant rulings made by trial courts in the Monterey Formation lawsuit was the decision to uphold, in part, a challenge to Measure Z by oil companies and other mineral rights holders.

The court of appeal subsequently confirmed this ruling, supporting that Measure Z’s restrictions on oil and gas operations conflicted with state laws.

Appeals Process and Supreme Court Involvement

In the Monterey Formation lawsuit, a party can appeal an unfavorable judgment or certain orders within 60 days of mailing the Notice of Entry of Judgment or 180 days from the data entry.

The appeal process involves:

  • Preparing the necessary documentation.
  • Submitting the appeal.
  • Allowing sufficient time for processing.
  • Receiving the final decision via e-mail.

The concluding step in the appeal process is an oral argument. The Supreme Court may become involved in the Monterey Formation lawsuit should a party appeal an unfavorable judgment or certain orders to the Supreme Court [3].

Related Article: Niobrara Formation Lawsuit

The Potential Implications Of The Lawsuit

A woman signing some documents

The potential implications of the Monterey Formation lawsuit are far-reaching, impacting both the oil and gas industry and the environment.

Additionally, the lawsuit has inspired grassroots campaigns to raise awareness about the region’s environmental impacts of oil and gas extraction.

Read AlsoHow Dangerous Is Oil Field Work?

Grassroots Campaigns

Grassroots campaigns are organized by citizens, including voters, to raise awareness and take action on issues important to them, such as environmental concerns.

The Monterey Formation lawsuit has inspired grassroots campaigns to raise awareness about the environmental impacts of oil and gas extraction in the Monterey Formation.

Impacts of the Monterey Formation Lawsuit on the Public

The lawsuit could significantly impact public health, the economy, and the environment. It could lead to both economic and environmental implications.

Economic implications of the lawsuit for the oil and gas industry:

  • Increased compliance costs for oil and gas companies.
  • Reduced investment in oil and gas exploration and production.
  • Decreased tax revenue for state and local governments.
  • Potential for job losses in the oil and gas industry.
  • Potential for increased investment in the renewable energy sector.

Environmental implications of the lawsuit:

  • Reduced air and water pollution.
  • Improved habitat for endangered species.
  • Increased protection of groundwater resources.
  • Potential for improved public health.

Ultimately, the lawsuit seeks to protect the environment and ensure that future generations have access to natural resources.

The Average Settlement In The Monterey Formation Lawsuit

A gavel and stacks of dollar billsAlthough the average settlement amount in the Monterey Formation lawsuit could not be determined, it is worth noting that the potential financial implications of the lawsuit are considerable.

If the plaintiffs prevail, the defendants could be liable for damages, fines, and other associated costs.

The outcome of the lawsuit and the resulting settlements could significantly impact the oil and gas industry and the environment and species in the Monterey Formation.

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Where Does Monterey Get Its Water From?

Monterey gets its water from two primary sources in the country: the Carmel River and the Seaside Basin. Both of these sources are recharged by local rain.

What Is The Status Of The Monterey Lawsuit?

The status of the Monterey lawsuit is still ongoing as of March 8, 2023. The lawsuit was filed in 2019 by a group of environmental organizations who allege that oil companies operating in the formation have violated several environmental laws, including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act.

Get A Free Consultation With Our Experienced Attorneys

Suppose you have a case regarding the Monterey Formation lawsuit and want to know its potential implications.

In that case, we invite you to schedule a free consultation with our experienced attorneys at Schmidt & Clark, LLP.

During this consultation, you will receive preliminary legal advice and a case evaluation, providing valuable insight into the complexities of this legal battle and its potential consequences for the oil and gas industry, the environment, and species living in the Monterey Formation.



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