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Groups Warn Against Trump Effort to Unleash 'Fracking Frenzy' by Unlocking Million+ Acres of Public Land for Drilling

"There's no place for this backwards plan in California's clean energy future."

Pumpjacks on Lost Hills Oil Field in California on Route 46.

Pumpjacks on Lost Hills Oil Field in California on Route 46. (Photo: Arne Hückelheim, Wikimedia Commons)

Over 1 million acres of California land will be opened to fracking if Donald Trump has his way according to a plan released just hours after his administration shelved efforts to expand offshore drilling. 

The president announced the plans in a draft released by the administration on Thursday afternoon. The proposal calls for opening  1,011,470 acres of public holdings in California to oil drilling and fracking.

The new proposal comes on the same day as the administration pulled out of a controversial plan to expand offshore drilling was thrown out by a federal judge in Alaska.

In a statement, Natural Resources Defense Council legislative director for the Nature Program Alexandra Adams said that the program should be completely ended. 

"President Trump's wildly unpopular and risky offshore drilling plan needs to be more than sidelined," said Adams. "It should be deep-sixed permanently."

Yet the California rule proposal is the kind of decision that could have disastrous effects on the environment, said Clare Lakewood, senior attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity.

"Trump's plan would unleash a fracking frenzy that puts California's people and wildlife in harm's way," said Lakewood. "This administration is dead set on letting oil and gas companies dig up every last drop of dirty fuel."

The decision, if it goes through, would be the first time in six years that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issues a land lease since a judge ruled the agency's issuance of fracking certificates violated the National Environmental Policy Act.

That track record doesn't give much hope to green groups. The Sierra Club's Monica Embrey, a senior campaign representative with the group, said her organization was prepared to throw down against the administration's assault on public land.

"Expanding extraction of dirty fossil fuels on our public lands threatens the health of our communities and the future of our climate," said Embrey. "We will push back every step of the way against this reckless plan to subject more of California's lands, wildlife, and communities to fracking."

California environmentalists hope to push the administration to abandon this plan too, said Earthjustice attorney Greg Loarie.

"Californians don't want fracking on our beautiful public lands any more than President Trump wants fracking on the greens of his Mar-a-Lago golf course," said Loarie. "There's no place for this backwards plan in California's clean energy future."

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