Action deadline: comments on Draft Supplemental EIS due June 10, 2019 –

“Land management”: the words have such a nice ring to them, as if nice things will happen to, you know, the land. But if the Despoiler-in-Chief gets his way, more than a million acres of California lands could soon be subject to oil drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”

On April 27, 2019, Trump’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released a draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) intended to open up public lands and mineral estates in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Kern, and six other California counties to oil companies. Some of the targeted parcels are owned by the BLM; in other cases, BLM owns the underlying mineral rights. After a 45-day public comment period, the EIS will be finalized and BLM can auction off the drilling rights to these parcels for as little as $2.00 per acre.

The parcels on the chopping block include some of the wildest and most pristine areas along the Central Coast and Central Valley – lands in and around national parks, national monuments, and national forests, as well as state and local parks and preserves. Many are in areas of critical environmental concern. A picture is worth much more than our description – take a look at this interactive map posted by Los Padres ForestWatch, showing the areas that may be open for oil drilling and fracking leases and their relationship to environmentally sensitive areas. Neighboring cities, schools and farms will also be impacted.

We need to stop this before irreparable damage is done. Submit your comments online here by June 10, 2019! Read on for instructions, talking points, and more information:

What to do:

Comment now! The 45-day public comment period ends on June 10, 2019. Submit your comments online here. (If you comment online, you must fill in all boxes with red asterisks and you have a 60 minute time limit. Once you have finished with one screen, click the “Next” button in the lower right corner; the last screen will have a “Submit” button in that location.) Or you can submit comments by mail to this address:

Bakersfield Field Office, Attn: Bakersfield RMP Hydraulic Fracturing Analysis
3801 Pegasus Drive
Bakersfield, CA  93308

What to write:

Here are some suggested comments; please personalize what you write, because copied & pasted comments or overly similar comments may be grouped together and not counted separately. Some of these comments have been adapted from the comprehensive letter from California’s environmental and natural resources agencies responding to the BLM’s initial notice of intent related to the lease sales of federal lands in California, which you can read here.

  • Opening up new public lands to fracking and other fossil fuel extraction methods is contrary to California’s commitment to building a sustainable future without reliance on fossil fuels.
    • California has a statutory target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, and a plan to reduce petroleum consumption by 45 percent by 2030 to meet this target.
    • We need environmentally and economically sound energy strategies focused on the development of renewable energy sources.
    • Why despoil our environment to extract a resource we have decided to move away from?
  • Fracking involves the use of toxic and poorly understood chemicals.
    • These toxic chemicals get into the groundwater, especially in California, where fracking operations are dangerously shallow.
    • Our communities, waterways, wildlife, and outdoor economy will all be put at risk.
  • Let’s not open our beautiful public lands to fracking and drilling.
    • Let’s not sacrifice our health, wildlife and climate to profit the oil and gas industry.
    • In a state where water is so precious — to agriculture, human populations, and wildlife — clean water is worth more than oil.

More info:

Fracking is an extreme oil extraction process that involves injecting chemicals and fluids at high pressure underground to access oil or natural gas. Environmentalists are concerned that fracking can contaminate groundwater and increase the risk of seismic activity. The public lands in question here sit over groundwater that supplies neighboring areas with water for agricultural and human uses. In addition, geologic conditions and hydraulic fracturing practices in California makes fracking particularly hazardous – fracking in this state occurs at unusually shallow depths, which heightens concerns about groundwater contamination and other environmental impacts.

The draft EIS is the latest step in Trump’s efforts to eliminate environmental protections and facilitate fracking on federally controlled lands. As you may recall, one of the administration’s first actions after the inauguration was to rescind Obama-era fracking regulations. As Senator Kamala Harris put it:

Under this administration, California’s beautiful public lands and its outdoor economy are under direct threat, and we must stand up against this active effort to chip away at vital environmental protections.

The proposed action would end a five year moratorium on leasing federal land to oil companies in California. No federal lands in the state have been subject to such leases since 2013, when a federal judge found that the BLM violated environmental laws by issuing oil leases in Monterey County without fully considering the environmental impact of fracking.

The supplemental EIS is the result of a lawsuit filed in the US District Court, Central District of California by Earthjustice, representing the Center for Biological Diversity and Los Padres ForestWatch, challenging BLM’s California oil leasing plan. In 2016, the judge found that BLM ignored the impacts of fracking in its original environmental studies and, in 2017, BLM agreed to produce a supplemental EIS analyzing the potential environmental effects of fracking.

You can find more information from the Los Padres ForestWatch.

 

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