Nearly 725,000 acres of public land in California is no longer off-limits to oil and gas drilling, according to a decision by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) made Friday.
Reports said the decision is part of an effort to strengthen the nation’s energy independence and will allow oil and gas leases mostly in the Central Valley and the Central Coast, according to Fox News.
The decision by the BLM stated:
The BLM predicts a range from zero to 37 new oil and gas wells could be developed on Federal mineral estate during the next 20 years as a result of this plan amendment. Any future proposals for leasing or development would go through additional environmental reviews based on site-specific project information and other requirements for consultation, coor-dination and public involvement.
The document also stated the Resource Management Plan Amendment (RMPA) was “prepared with input from interested agencies, organizations, and individuals,” and the public’s voice was a vital part of the decision-making process regarding any environmental concerns.
However, Clare Lakewood, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, criticized the Trump administration on Friday for its decision to open the public lands.
“This reckless move is the toxic convergence of Trump’s climate denial, loyalty to the oil industry and grudge against California,” she claimed.
“Turning over these spectacular wild places to dirty drilling and fracking will sicken Californians, harm endangered species and fuel climate chaos. We’ll fight tooth and nail to make sure it doesn’t happen.”
Reports said that during the Obama administration, environmentalists successfully blocked any efforts to open up new land for drilling.
However, Serena Baker, the agency’s regional office spokeswoman, said the decision is on track with President Trump’s agenda for increased development of fossil fuel resources and job creation.
“This plan supports the administration’s priority of promoting environmentally responsible energy development,” Baker concluded.