On Friday, April 3, Citadel Exploration filed a request for dismissal in its suit against San Benito County’s Measure J.  Measure J was passed in the November 2014 election and is a ban on high-intensity petroleum operations, which includes hydraulic fracturing, acid well stimulation, and cyclic steam injection.  Citadel initiated this suit in February 2015, arguing that state law preempted Measure J, which is a county law.

The request for dismissal does not carry the weight of precedent or indicate that Measure J is legal, however.  It is still possible for another party to challenge the measure under other circumstances and stating the same legal arguments, such as the measure constitutes an illegal take of property without just compensation.Continue Reading Citadel Drops Lawsuit Against San Benito Fracking Ban

On Friday, February 27, 2015, Citadel Exploration, Inc. (“Citadel”) filed suit against San Benito County in the County’s Superior Court, arguing that state law preempts Measure J, a county ordinance that prohibits hydraulic fracturing.  Hydraulic fracturing, included in the definition of well stimulation treatment, is being regulated by California’s Senate Bill 4 (“SB 4”). 

The California Court of Appeal for the Sixth District issued its decision in Save Panoche Valley v. San Benito County, finding that the public interest in developing the Panoche Valley Solar Farm (Project) outweighs the public interest in maintaining the agricultural use of the land on which the Project will be built.  The decision is the first published case in California to confirm that a Williamson Act contract can be cancelled to accommodate a solar generating plant, and addresses issues that arise from California’s competing policies to promote renewable energy development and to protect agricultural land.

The court also concluded that the environmental impact report prepared for the Project was adequate, in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).Continue Reading Appeals Court Finds in Favor of Solar Project Over Agricultural Use