Ground Truth: Dispatch

Trump Seeks to Open Wide Stretches of California to Fracking

The Trump administration last week released plans to open more than 1 million acres in California to fracking, which would end a five-year moratorium on leasing public land in the state for oil and gas development.

On Thursday, the Bureau of Land Management released a draft environmental impact statement that calls for allowing oil and gas drilling on wide stretches of the San Joaquin Valley.

The current moratorium on oil and gas leasing came after a judge ruled in 2013 that Obama administration officials did not sufficiently examine the environmental consequences of proposed oil and gas development in the state.

Trump’s plan would affect public and private land in eight California counties—Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare and Ventura.

Critics vow to fight the plan. They point out that the region already suffers from severe air pollution. And, they say, fracking would threaten key aquifers that provide water for municipal and agricultural use.

“Additional air pollution from expanded operations adds insult to injury, keeping Valley residents at risk and limiting our ability to achieve clean air,” said Genevieve Gale, executive director of the Central Valley Air Quality Coalition.

The BLM is accepting public comments on the proposal through June 10.