ACTION ALERT: Trump’s New Oil Leasing Has No Place in California

September 18th, 2020 - by Jenny Binstock / The Sierra Club & Jenny Binstock / The Sierra Club

The Carrizo Plain National Monument: at risk from Trump’s oil-plunnder plan

Trump Administration Proposes First Oil Lease Sale in California in Eight Years

Clare Lakewood / The Center for Biological Diversity

WASHINGTON (August 27, 2020) — The Trump administration announced Wednesday that it intends to hold the first federal oil and gas lease sale in California since 2012.

The US Bureau of Land Management plans to auction seven parcels totaling more than 4,000 acres of public land and mineral estate in Kern County, potentially adding to air emissions in a region that already has some of the worst air pollution in the country. Drilling could occur near the Carrizo Plain National Monument.

“It’s breathtakingly vicious for the Trump administration to expand drilling and fracking while California battles historic wildfires driven by climate change,” said Clare Lakewood, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “More oil wells mean more greenhouse gases, more air pollution and more destroyed habitat.

Selling this public land to oil companies will do significant harm to our environment, despite the administration’s ridiculous claims. We’ve blocked any new federal leasing in California in court for eight years now, and we’ll fight this too.”

Some of these public lands are located within the Lokern-Buena Vista Area of Critical Environmental Concern. Other parcels are close to the boundaries of the Carrizo Plain National Monument and Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge. The Bureau acknowledges that endangered species including the San Joaquin kit fox, California condor, giant kangaroo rat and California jewelflower may be affected by oil drilling on the parcels for sale.

Two successful lawsuits brought by the Center have resulted in no new lease sales in California since 2012.

The Trump administration faces several ongoing lawsuits over its efforts to increase drilling and fracking in California.

In December 2019 the administration made a final decision to allow oil drilling and fracking across more than 1 million acres of federal public land and mineral estate in eight counties across California’s Central Valley and Central Coast: Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare and Ventura. Conservation groups filed suit in US District Court in Los Angeles to challenge that decision.

This followed its decision in October 2019 to allow drilling and fracking on an additional 725,500 acres across 11 counties in the Central Coast and Bay Area. Conservation groups filed suit in US District Court in San Francisco to challenge that decision.

Fracking is an extreme oil-extraction process that blasts a mixture of toxic chemicals and water into the ground to crack open oil-bearing rocks. According to the Bureau, about 90% of new oil and gas wells on public lands are fracked.

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.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

ACTION ALERT: Trump’s New Oil Leasing Has No Place in California

Jenny Binstock / The Sierra Club

(September 15, 2020) — As we’ve seen climate-change-fueled heat waves and wildfires impacting Calfornians across the state this week, Trump’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is proposing to lease thousands of acres of Californian land for oil and gas development for the first time in 8 years, putting local residents, protected wildlife, and our climate at risk. Send in your official comment and tell them your story why Trump’s reckless pro-drilling agenda has no place in California.

Air and water quality. Impacts on national parks and public lands. The climate. Iconic endangered species like the California Condor. All of them will be put at risk if the Trump Administration has its way in opening up new public lands for drilling and fracking for the first time in 8 years.

And once again, we see how racism is killing our planet. Communities of color and low income communities are already disproportionately hit by pollution from runaway oil and gas development in the region, and selling off new lands for drilling, fracking, and other kinds of extraction doubles down on health impacts where the industry has already created an environmental sacrifice zone.

Even worse, all of this would take place in a part of our state facing some of the worst impacts from the COVID pandemic, while our burning forests fill the air with smoke. This is unconscionable. 

You have a chance to tell Trump’s BLM exactly what you think by sending in a public comment. But don’t just click through and submit it– this is a chance for you to tell your personal story of why this would impact you, so take some time to tell them in your own words why this is a terrible idea.

Here are a few of the reasons why:

  • Environmental racism: Communities of color and low income communities in Kern County, the heart of California’s oil and gas industry, breathe some of the dirtiest air in America. This leads to more asthma attacks, hospital visits, respiratory illness, and preventable deaths. More oil and gas development means we continue to sacrifice the health of communities by ignoring the cumulative impacts from air and water pollution that have burdened people for decades.
  • Climate: Unprecedented heat waves and wildfires have made The Golden State seem more like something from a Hollywood movie this past week. More fossil fuels means more climate change. Period. Talk about your personal experiences this last week.
  • Air and water pollution: Oil and gas development leads to increases in numerous pollutants that increase asthma attacks, respiratory illness, premature death, and even cancer. Do you live in an area with air pollution problems? Do you or a family member suffer from asthma or other illness? Talk about that and the need to protect clean air and water.
  • Endangered Species: The California Condor, San Joaquin kit fox, giant kangaroo rat, and California jewelflower all are potentially impacted by this expansion of drilling and fracking. We should not set back decades of successful conservation work protecting the condor by putting them in jeopardy again for a few more drops of oil and gas.
  • National Parks and Public Lands: Trump’s BLM proposes to open up areas to drill and frack including: 
  • An area near the boundary of Carrizo Plain National Monument, the largest single remaining grassland in California, home to some of the highest concentrations of rare plants and animals in the state
  • Nearby drilling could pose a serious threat to the continuity and cultural preservation of California Native Nations in the region.
  • A parcel near the boundary of Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge, which was established to protect the endangered California Condor, serves as a critical wildlife corridor, and is home to rare wildlife and plant species
  • A parcel within the Lokern-Buena Vista Area of Critical Environmental Concern 
  • Areas just over 2 miles from the proposed Temblor Range Wilderness, which is included in the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act that recently passed the House of Representatives
  • The Planning area borders nearby national parks like Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon, as well as Class 1 wilderness areas, including the San Raphael, Ansel Adams, Domeland, and John Muir Wilderness. Cumulative air and climate impacts from this and future lease sales could impact visibility and the welfare of local ecosystems.

Tens of thousands of Californians have already raised their voices against these leases. But rather than just sending in a form letter, telling your personal story of how this connects with you and why you care about it has power. 

ACTION: Take a moment and send in your personal story to the Bureau of Land Management now.

Jenny Binstock is the Sierra Club’s Senior Campaign Representative – Lands, Water, Wildlife. Sierra Club, 2101 Webster St., Suite 1300, Oakland, CA 94612.