Mendocino County was the first county in the nation to ban Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) back in 2004. So it comes as little surprise that in November 2014, Mendocino County became the first county in California, and the second in the nation, to pass into law a powerful local ordinance that declares local self-governing rights over state and federal jurisdiction. The Mendocino County Community Bill of Rights Fracking and Water Use Initiative, on the ballot as Measure S, passed with the overwhelming support of more than 69% of voters.
The measure preemptively bans all fracking activities within the county including the dumping of toxic fracking waste. In addition, the measure bans the transfer of offshore fracking oil or waste through the County as well as the extraction or sale of local water for use in fracking anywhere in the state.
Many residents of Mendocino County are wondering about the legality of passing of this ordinance. The founder of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), Thomas Linzey, provides this in answer: “Measure S is about … changing the law by challenging the law….directly. The current system of law does not allow you to say ‘no’ to fracking within the County. You therefore have a choice – you can either accept that current status of the law or you can work to change it. Measure S is about asserting your right – as residents of the County – to change how the municipal system operates.”
Jamie Lee, “Mendocino County, CA. Makes History and Passes Law Establishing Local Self-Governance,” TABU, November 5, 2014, http://tabublog.com/2014/11/05/mendocino-county-ca-makes-history-and-passes-law-establishing-local-self-governance/.
Bob Downing, “Mendocino County is first California community to enact ban,” Akron Beacon Journal, November 5, 2014, http://www.ohio.com/blogs/drilling/ohio-utica-shale-1.291290/mendocino-county-is-first-california-community-to-enact-ban-1.538340.
Student Researcher: Bryanna Silva (College of Marin)
Faculty Evaluator: Susan Rahman (College of Marin)