For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 
Contact: 

Clare Lakewood, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 316-8615, clakewood@biologicaldiversity.org
Gabby Brown, Sierra Club, (914) 261-4626, gabby.brown@sierraclub.org

Trump Finalizes Plan to Open 725,500 Acres of California's Central Coast to Drilling, Fracking

MARINA, Calif - The Trump administration today finalized a plan to open 725,500 acres of public lands and mineral estate across California’s Central Coast and the Bay Area to new oil and gas drilling. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management plan is an increase of nearly 327,000 acres from the draft proposal prepared under the Obama administration.

The public lands earmarked for leasing in today’s resource management plan are in the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Fresno, Merced, Monterey, San Benito, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Stanislaus.

“Trump’s new plan aims to stab oil derricks and fracking rigs into some of California’s most beautiful landscapes,” said Clare Lakewood, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “From Monterey to the Bay Area, the president wants to let oil companies drill and spill their way across our beloved public lands and wildlife habitat. As we fight climate chaos, there’s no justification for any new drilling and fracking, let alone this outrageous assault on our pristine wild places.”

Today’s move comes just weeks after the Trump administration released its draft plan to reopen more than a million acres of public land and federal mineral estate in the Central California region (including Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare and Ventura counties) to fossil fuel extraction. Together the plans target a total of 1,736,970 acres across 19 California counties.

The plans would end a five-year-old moratorium on leasing federal public land and mineral estate in the state to oil companies. The BLM has not held a single lease sale in California since 2013, when a judge ruled that the agency violated the law when it issued oil leases in Monterey and Fresno Counties without considering the risks of fracking. The ruling responded to a suit brought by the Center and the Sierra Club challenging a BLM decision to auction off about 2,500 acres of land in those counties to oil companies.

Fracking is an extreme oil-extraction process that blasts toxic chemicals mixed with water underground to crack rocks. According to the BLM, about 90 percent of new oil and gas wells on public lands are fracked.

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A 2015 report from the California Council on Science and Technology concluded that fracking in California happens at unusually shallow depths, dangerously close to underground drinking water supplies, with unusually high concentrations of toxic chemicals.

In 2016 Monterey County voters passed Measure Z, which bans fracking, new oil and gas wells and new waste-injection wells. San Benito County voters have also passed a ballot measure banning fracking. Alameda County has passed an ordinance banning fracking, and Santa Cruz County has passed an ordinance banning fracking and all other oil and gas development.

The BLM’s regulations provide a 60-day window for Gov. Gavin Newsom to review the plan for any inconsistencies with state and local plans and policies and provide recommendations. If the BLM rejects such recommendations, the governor can appeal that determination.

Other parties may also protest the plan and file a lawsuit if the protest is denied.

“In California and across the country, the Trump administration is putting our communities and our climate at risk as they prioritize fossil fuel industry profits over the health and safety of our families,” said Monica Embrey, a Sierra Club senior campaign representative. "We will use every tool at our disposal to push back against this reckless proposal and protect our public lands from fracking.”

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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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