Trump Admin. OKs Fracking, Drilling on 1 Million Acres in CA


VENTURA COUNTY, Calif. – The Trump administration on Thursday took the final step to allow oil and gas drilling on more than 1 million acres of federal public land on California's central coast and San Joaquin Valley, despite a flood of public comment in opposition. 

The Bureau of Land Management will now allow new lease sales in 2020 on land that stretches across Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare and Ventura counties. 

Rebecca August, director of advocacy for the Santa Barbara-based group Los Padres ForestWatch, calls fracking "a very toxic process."

"Fracking certainly causes impacts to local water supplies, to air quality,” she states. “There's a lot of associated truck traffic. There's toxic chemicals that are known to cause cancer, that can be forced through water supplies."

August also complains that fracking wastewater creates a disposal issue and notes the drill sites emit methane, a potent greenhouse gas linked to climate change. 

The BLM's environmental impact study declared that fracking will pose no significant impacts to wildlife, water, public health or the environment.

The BLM had not approved a new oil or gas lease in California since 2013, when a judge ruled that prior leases had violated federal environmental law. 

August says the oil in that area poses a particular threat to air quality.

"And the Central Coast is home to some of the dirtiest oil – most fossil-fuel-intensive, carbon-intensive oil, you know – that there is,” she points out. “And that generally requires a good deal of refinement, and that causes a lot of emissions."

A separate office of the BLM opened up more than 725,000 additional acres to drilling around the Monterey area in October.

BLM, energy

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