Trump administration opens a million acres of California land for fracking

Wesley Brown, Staff Writer

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The Trump administration has furthered plans to open 1.2 million acres of US land to fracking, despite outcry by environmental activists who have recently sued the administration over another fracking proposal. 

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced on Friday that a Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement was completed for lands leased for fracking.

The policy, initially proposed in April, will allow fracking activities to be conducted in the Central Valley, the Central Coast, Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia National Parks.

The proposal would end a fracking moratorium which was placed on oil companies in California in 2013. The initial ban was placed when a judge found that BLM had not provided sufficient information on the impact of fracking.

The hotly-contested policy has led to a lawsuit against BLM by the Sierra Club and Center for Biological Diversity, with activists claiming that extraction practices contribute to the progression of climate change and disruption of wildlife habitats. 

According to Gary Lasky, legal chair of the Sierra Club Tehipite Chapter in Fresno, “Expanding extraction of dirty fossil fuels on our public lands threatens the health of our communities and the future of our climate … Drilling on our public lands already accounts for a significant portion of climate pollution in the United States, and this push from the Trump administration to open up even more lands for drilling is a huge step in the wrong direction.”

According to Gabe Garcia, a manager for BLM, the plan, “supports the balance between resource conservation, responsible energy development, and economic opportunities consistent with the BLM’s multiple use mission.”

Trump’s plans to open California land for fracking began in early April, however, these administration practices fall in line policy patterns. President Trump has received backlash as his administration has rolled back many environmental regulations since the start of his term.

This policy in particular has been branded as, “Federal Overreach,” by State Attorney General Xavier Becerra. Plans for deregulation run counter to a policy passed last September by Governor Newsom which stops any new land from being leased for fracking.

According to Becerra, these actions disregard, “ important impacts to the communities, relies on incorrect assumptions, ignores alternative options, and is otherwise unlawful.”

Over the next 20 years, this plan could result in 37 new gas and oil drilling sites. According to BLM estimates, the gas and oil industry supports 3,000 jobs and $623 million in tax revenue within Fresno, Monterey, and San Benito, three counties in which land is set to be leased.