Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, introduced a new bill Friday to place a moratorium on fracking and new oil and gas drilling on federal lands on California’s Central and Southern coasts.
The California Land Preservation and Protection Act is a direct pushback to the Trump administration’s decision to allow the Bureau of Land Management to pursue oil and gas leases on more than 1.2 million acres of state land, including Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Ventura counties. Rep. Julia Brownley, D-Ventura, is an original co-sponsor of the bill, Noelle Rosellini, spokesman for Mr. Carbajal’s office, said in a news release.
The bill prohibits BLM from authorizing future oil and gas leasing until the department publishes a comprehensive environmental impact statement to assess the potential effects on climate change, air quality, water, wildlife, emissions and impacted communities.
“If the evaluation finds adverse impacts, BLM cannot move forward with new drilling and development,” Ms. Rosellini said.
The BLM announced its decision to allow for new oil and gas leasing in California in December 2019. Shortly after, the Trump administration was sued by local nonprofit Los Padres ForestWatch, as well as the Center for Biological Diversity, Patagonia, Central California Environmental Justice Network, National Parks Conservation Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, and The Wilderness Society. A second suit was filed by the state of California.
“We cannot stand by as the Trump administration pollutes our environment and auctions off our public lands, health, safety and economy,” Mr. Carbajal said in a statement. “My bill will stop the Bureau of Land Management from proceeding with any oil and gas activities that are detrimental to our environment, it promotes comprehensive research and it enhances environmental justice in our communities.
“The health of our Central Coast public land is key to the health of our communities—we will not be exploited by this administration and special interests.”
Ms. Brownley said that Ventura County prides itself on being good stewards of the environment and that she was proud to co-sponsor the bill “because our public lands must be protected from the harmful impacts of drilling and fracking.”
“The Bureau of Land Management has a responsibility to protect our public lands for future generations, but its recent actions to open up lands for drilling and fracking, including in Ventura County, are at odds with that mission,” Ms. Brownley said in a statement.
The Los Padres ForestWatch issued a statement Friday praising the new legislation.
“We must take every action to stop the current administration’s push to exploit public lands for the benefit of a few oil companies,” Los Padres ForestWatch Advocacy Director Rebecca August said in a statement. “We are lucky to have elected officials who will stand up for our communities and our environment.”