Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Flares burning off gas at Belridge Oil Field and hydraulic fracking site which is the fourth largest oil field in California. (Photo: Citizens of the Planet/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Merging 'Loyalty to the Oil Industry' and 'Grudge Against California,' Trump Opens 725,000 Acres to Fossil Fuel Drilling

"Turning over these spectacular wild places to dirty drilling and fracking will sicken Californians, harm endangered species, and fuel climate chaos."

Jake Johnson

The Trump administration on Friday moved to open more than 725,000 acres of California's central coast to potential oil and gas drilling, a decision environmentalists condemned as a disastrous handout to big polluters at a time when urgent action is needed to slash greenhouse gas emissions.

The move, announced by the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management (BLM), ends a five-year moratorium on leasing federal land in California to fossil fuel companies.

As Reuters reported, the BLM "has not held a lease sale in California since 2013, when a judge ruled that the agency illegally issued leases without analyzing the environmental impact of drilling called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking."

Clare Lakewood, senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the groups that sued BLM to stop the lease sales, said the agency's "reckless move" on Friday represents "the toxic convergence of Trump's climate denial, loyalty to the oil industry, and grudge against California."

"Turning over these spectacular wild places to dirty drilling and fracking will sicken Californians, harm endangered species, and fuel climate chaos," said Lakewood. "We'll fight tooth and nail to make sure it doesn't happen."

The San Francisco Chronicle reported Friday that BLM's decision "gives an immediate go-ahead to 14 drilling leases in San Benito, Monterey, and Fresno counties, mostly projects near existing drill sites, projects that have been pursued for years by fossil fuel companies looking to expand."

"But the action also opens the door for new leases in eight other counties, raising the prospect of additional drilling in such spots as the Santa Cruz Mountains, the East Bay hills and eastern Santa Clara County," according to the Chronicle.

Jenny Binstock, campaign representative with Sierra Club, said in a statement that the Trump administration "is putting California's communities and our climate at risk as they prioritize fossil fuel industry profits over our public lands and the health and safety of our families."

"We will continue to use every tool at our disposal to push back against this irresponsible decision and to protect our public lands from fracking," Binstock added.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Please select a donation method:

UN Chief Reminds Leaders of Need for 'Clear and Unambiguous Commitment' to 1.5°C

"There is no pathway to this goal without the leadership of the G20," he said after a disagreement over a climate communiqué.

Jessica Corbett ·


'Climate Change Is Here,' Says Oregon Governor, 'And We Have to Take Action'

As wildfires devour her state, the Democrat declares that the climate emergency is "like a hammer hitting us in the head."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Hello Somebody!' Rep. Ocasio-Cortez Campaigns for Nina Turner in Cleveland

"I think it's extremely clear that Nina Turner is the candidate in this race that answers to the people of Ohio first and foremost."

Jessica Corbett ·


Medicare for All Advocates Take to the Streets of Over 50 US Cities

"How can we have life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness when we live in constant fear of illness, bankruptcy, or homelessness because of the outrageous for-profit healthcare system?"

Jessica Corbett ·


Thousands Join Budapest Pride Parade to Protest Attacks on LGBTQ+ Hungarians

"A lot has happened over the last few years, and it's time to show that we're not okay with it," said one of the organizers.

Jessica Corbett ·