The Bureau of Land Management released its proposal to open more than 1 million acres of public land in California to fracking and oil drilling, which would lift a five-year moratorium that stops the leasing of land to oil companies.
The BLM will now “prepare an environmental impact statement on the use of fracking on 400,000 acres of public land and 1.2 million acres of mineral estate overseen by BLM in California counties including Fresno, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara,” EcoWatch said The Hill reported.
“[A]nalyzing the impacts of fracking is like analyzing the impacts of smoking cigarettes: there’s really no question that more fracking would be terrible for California,” Greg Loarie, an attorney for Earthjustice, said in a statement released by the Center for Biological Diversity.
While a judge put a halt on leasing federal lands in California to oil companies after a case between BLM and Monterey County determined the BLM didn’t consider the environmental impacts of fracking and oil drilling, no federal land has been leased in 2013.
A study conducted by the California Council on Science and Technology concluded that fracking can contaminate groundwater. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, fracking is done in shallow ground with the use of toxic chemicals that can easily seep into groundwater that is nearby.
Residents close to the federal lands the Trump administration plans to lease out are concerned about the health risks along with the environmental impacts of fracking.
“We don’t want to see any expansion of oil and gas extraction in San Luis Obispo County,” Charles Varni, a member of the Coalition to Protect San Luis Obispo County, said in a report by The Sacramento Bee. “We want to protect our groundwater resources for higher uses.”
Citizens have 30 days from Aug. 8 to voice their concerns over BLM’s proposal.
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