Quantcast

Trump Moves to Open 1.6 Million Acres of California Public Lands to Fracking

An oil field and fracking site in California's San Joaquin Valley. Education Images / Getty Images

The Trump administration took the first steps on Wednesday towards opening up 1.6 million acres of public land in California to fracking and oil drilling, The Sacramento Bee reported.


In a notice of intent published on the Federal Register Wednesday, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) said it would prepare an environmental impact statement on the use of fracking on 400,000 acres of public land and 1.2 million acres of mineral estate overseen by BLM in California counties including Fresno, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara, The Hill reported.

Concerned citizens have 30 days from Wednesday to comment on the proposal.

The move would lift a five-year moratorium on leasing federal land in California to oil companies, The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) said in a statement.

It also comes less than a week after the Trump administration proposed revoking California's waiver to set its own vehicle emissions standards under the Clean Air Act and just days after Trump blamed the state's environmental policies for the record-breaking wildfires it is currently battling.

"It's a coordinated attack on California by the Trump administration," CBD senior attorney Clare Lakewood told The Hill.

No federal lands in the state have been leased to oil companies since 2013, when a federal judge found that the BLM had leased land in Monterey County without fully considering the environmental impact of fracking.

Environmentalists are concerned that fracking can increase the risk of earthquakes and contaminate groundwater, The Sacramento Bee reported.

The later risk is increased in California, a 2015 report from the California Council on Science and Technology found, because fracking in the state happens in areas with shallow depths close to groundwater and uses an especially high amount of toxic chemicals, The CBD reported.

Residents of San Luis Obispo are even considering a ballot measure this November that would ban new fracking operations and oil wells in parts of the county that are unincorporated, though it would have no impact on what happens on federal land, The Sacramento Bee reported.

One of the key movers behind that initiative, Charles Varni of the Coalition to Protect San Luis Obispo County, told The Sacramento Bee that he was angered by the BLM's decision.

"We don't want to see any expansion of oil and gas extraction in San Luis Obispo County," he said. "We want to protect our groundwater resources for higher uses."

Earthjustice attorney Greg Loarie said that, while he was glad that the BLM was investigating the impacts of fracking, he thought such an investigation was a little beside the point.

"[A]nalyzing the impacts of fracking is like analyzing the impacts of smoking cigarettes: there's really no question that more fracking would be terrible for California," he said in the CBD statement.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A metal fence marked with the U.S. Border Patrol sign prevents people to get close to the barbed/concertina wire covering the U.S./Mexico border fence, in Nogales, Arizona, on Feb. 9. ARIANA DREHSLER / AFP / Getty Images

President Donald Trump issued the first veto of his presidency Friday, overturning Congress' vote to block his national emergency declaration to fund a border wall that environmental advocates say would put 93 endangered species at risk. However, the president's decision came the same day as an in-depth report from UPI revealing how razor wire placed at the border in the last four months already threatens wildlife.

Read More Show Less
Guillermo Murcia / Moment / Getty Images

By Ansley Hill

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that your body needs for many vital processes, including building and maintaining strong bones.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
D'Bone Collector Museum head Darrell Blatchley shows plastic found inside the stomach of a Cuvier's beaked whale in the Philippines this weekend. - / AFP / Getty Images

Yet another whale has died after ingesting plastic bags. A young male Cuvier's beaked whale was found washed up in Mabini, Compostela Valley in the Philippines Friday, CNN reported. When scientists from the D' Bone Collector Museum in Davao investigated the dead whale, they found it had died of "dehydration and starvation" after swallowing plastic bags―40 kilograms (approximately 88 pounds) worth of them!

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Jeff Turrentine

"Be careful what you wish for; you just might get it." This is something that everybody has to learn at some point. Lately, the lesson has hit home for a group of American automakers.

Read More Show Less
Art direction: Georgie Johnson. Illustrations: Freya Morgan

By Joe Sandler Clarke

"Don't expect us to continue buying European products," Malaysia's former plantations minister Mah Siew Keong told reporters in January last year. His comments came just after he had accused the EU of "practising a form of crop apartheid."

A few months later Luhut Pandjaitan, an Indonesian government minister close to President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo, warned his country would retaliate if it was "cornered" by the EU.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Torres and his parents walk along the Rio Grande. Luis Torres / Earthjustice

By Luis Torres

For some people who live along the U.S.-Mexico border, President Trump's attempt to declare a national emergency and extend the border wall is worse than a wasteful, unconstitutional stunt. It's an attack on their way of life that threatens to desecrate their loved ones' graves.

Read More Show Less
Flooding at the Platte River south of Fremont, Nebraska. Gov. Pete Ricketts

Flooding caused by last week's bomb cyclone storm has broken records in 17 places across the state of Nebraska, CNN reported Sunday. Around nine million people in 14 states along the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers were under a flood watch, CNN meteorologist Karen Maginnis said.

Read More Show Less
A car destroyed by Cyclone Idai in Beira, Mozambique. ADRIEN BARBIER / AFP / Getty Images

At least 150 people have died in a cyclone that devastated parts of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi over the weekend, The Associated Press reported Sunday. Cyclone Idai has affected more than 1.5 million people since it hit Mozambique's port city of Beira late Thursday, then traveled west to Zimbabwe and Malawi. Hundreds are still missing and tens of thousands are without access to roads or telephones.

"I think this is the biggest natural disaster Mozambique has ever faced. Everything is destroyed. Our priority now is to save human lives," Mozambique's Environment Minister Celso Correia said, as AFP reported.

Read More Show Less