California congressional Dems protest BLM’s leasing plans

California congressional Dems protest BLM’s leasing plans

 

California congressional Dems protest BLM’s leasing plans
Thirty-four Democrats on California’s congressional delegation, including Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala D. Harris, expressed their strong opposition to the US Bureau of Land Management’s plans to open more than 2 million acres of land in the state to new oil and gas development.

The proposed sites are in 18 counties near residential areas, agricultural farm lands, drinking water aquifers, and protected areas including three national parks, they said in their May 23 letter to US Interior Sec. David L. Bernhardt.

“Of the counties that BLM seeks to open to new oil and gas leasing, Alameda, Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Cruz counties have all banned [hydraulic fracturing] or new oil and gas development,” the lawmakers said. “It is clear that the administration is moving forward without fully considering the risks and damages to public health and the environment or the will of the people of the state.”

BLM’s Central Coast office in Marina released a proposed resource management plan amendment (RMPA) and final environmental impact statement on May 9 for proposed oil and gas leasing and development affecting some 800,000 acres of federal mineral estate, primarily in Fresno, Monterey, and San Benito counties.

It said that under the preferred alternative, leasing with controlled surface stipulations would be allowed on 683,000 acres of federal mineral estate, and another 42,400 acres would be open to leasing with no surface occupancy. About 67,500 acres of federal minerals would be closed to leasing in designated wilderness areas, wilderness study areas, and national monuments.

BLM predicted that up to 37 oil and gas wells could be drilled during the next 20 years within the planning area. It estimated that the oil and gas industry on private and public land directly supports 3,000 jobs and generates $623 million in tax revenue within Fresno, Monterey and San Benito counties.

 

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