The City of Compton is being sued for its ordinance banning hydraulic fracturing, effective on April 22, 2014.  (Western States Petroleum Association v. City of Compton, et al., Case No.BC552272.)   Although Compton is not the first city in the state to enact such a ban, Compton is the first city to be sued over it.  The Western States Petroleum Association (“WSPA”) filed a law suit on Monday, July 21 in Los Angeles County Superior Court.  The complaint states that such fracking bans are preempted by state regulation of well stimulation, Senate Bill 4 (“SB 4”) and the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources’ (“DOGGR”) regulations.

WSPA alleges several other legal grounds for the ordinance’s invalidity.  The industry group claims that the city failed to give adequate notice of the ordinance, violating state and federal Constitutional due process guarantees.  Additionally, the lack of public debate when passing the ordinance violated the City’s policy powers.  Mineral rights holders were not given a forum for public input.

Although there is no fracking within City borders, the ban reaches outside of the city limits by prohibiting any oil or gas wells nearby that bottom out in the City.  WSPA claims this is unconstitutional.

The fracking moratorium is not a new occurrence across the state.  For example, Beverley Hills became the first city in California to ban hydraulic fracturing through a vote in early May.  Then on May 20, 2014 Santa Cruz became the first county in the state of California to approve a permanent moratorium on oil and gas exploration and development, which included a ban on hydraulic fracturing.  

By Mike Mills ( and Shannon Morrissey.  Ms. Morrissey is a Law Clerk/Summer Associate with Stoel Rives LLP and is not currently licensed to practice law in California.