Environmental groups sue Trump administration calling plan to open millions of acres of public land to fracking ‘illegal’

"Trump's illegal, deeply unjust fracking plan would be a disaster for Central Valley communities, as well as our climate, wildlife and water."

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Environmental groups are pushing back on the Trump administration’s decision to expand fracking in California. A lawsuit filed in Los Angeles on Tuesday challenges the Bureau of Land Management’s plan to open more than a million acres of public lands in Central California to oil and gas leasing, Common Dreams reported.

Calling BLM’s fracking plan “illegal” and a “disaster for Central Valley communities,” the Center for Biologocal Diversity is joined by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Central California Environmental Justice Network, Los Padres ForestWatch, the National Parks Conservation Association, the Sierra Club, Patagonia Works and the Wilderness Society and represented by Earthjustice in suing the Trump administration.

“Trump’s illegal, deeply unjust fracking plan would be a disaster for Central Valley communities, as well as our climate, wildlife and water,” Clare Lakewood, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) said in a press release, reported by EcoWatch. “We need to phase out fracking and oil drilling, not throw open our public lands to polluters. The future of our beautiful state and our children depends on it.”

BLM’s plan “would allow fracking in Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare and Ventura counties, as well as on parcels of land near the Carrizo Plain National Monument, Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks and within 10 miles of Yosemite National Park,” EcoWatch reported. Environmental and conservation groups are concerned about the “long-term impacts to nearby communities and national parks” including public health, groundwater and air pollution, and the climate.

Serena Baker, BLM spokeswoman, said the agency’s plan is to open the public lands to a variety of uses, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Any specific plan to drill or frack would first need to consider “their economic viability and environmental impact,” before being approved or denied, she said.

The Trump administration’s plan runs counter to California’s energy policy. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a halt on fracking permits as of November 2019 until each was reviewed by independent scientists, EcoWatch reported.

“BLM’s ill-considered plan to fling wide the door to fracking on public lands is yet another assault on California’s efforts to protect its environment and move away from dirty fossil fuels,” Ann Alexander, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in the press release. “Gov. Newsom just announced curbs on oil drilling, but BLM is charging full speed ahead with it. California is trying to find a way to rationally address its limited water supply, and now BLM is greenlighting activities that can contaminate it with toxic chemicals. This federal war on California really needs to stop.”

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