Participation in government is no longer just a once-every-election activity…
Action: Stop oil drilling and fracking on our public lands in CA!
Comment today and often to prevent the Trump Administration from declaring open season for drillers to pollute 1.6 million acres of CA’s public lands. We’ve listed three ways to do it. Use them all!
- Comment: here using the portal from ForestWatch
- Email: here directly to the Federal Register.
- Mail: Bakersfield Field Office, Bureau of Land Management, Attn: Bakersfield RMP Hydraulic Fracturing Analysis, 3801 Pegasus Drive, Bakersfield, CA 93308
- Here is the original notice to review at your leisure.
Public pressure works! Environmental groups like ForestWatch and rural landowners stopped the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from selling off public lands for $2.00 an acre in 2006. They need the rest of us to help out now. Comment deadline is September 7th, 2018.
Some things to remember in your comments: They can be one sentence or an attached multi-page document. Keep these points in mind:
- The scoping process is for determining relevant issues that will influence the scope of the environmental analysis, including alternatives if necessary, and guide the planning process. It’s NOT about the concept of oil and gas leases.
- List any and all things that you think they should consider during this process.You don’t have to have all the answers.
- Ask questions designed to guide deliberations, for example, like whether shallow fracking operations could threaten the water table, or whether activities will affect habitat for wildlife.
- You can discuss known environmental harms of fracking. Provide links and citations to back up your assertions if you can.
- If you live in an area where fracking is happening now, talk about how it affects your life. If you live in one of the areas that could be opened to fracking, express your concerns about what that might mean.
Here are some great sources for your comments:
- Fracking in California: Questions and Concerns (biologicaldiversity.org)
- Ban Fracking Everywhere (foodandwaterwatch.org)
- IE Questions: Is Fracking Dangerous? (inside energy)
- Potential Health and Environmental Effects of Hydrofracking in the Williston Basin, Montana (sec.carleton.edu)
- Fracking Can Contaminate Drinking Water (ScientificAmerican)
What’s happened?: On Friday, Aug. 8th, the Trump Administration launched a 30-day public comment period on the environmental and public health impacts of hydraulic fracking in central California. This is the first step in a required scoping process for an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which will determine the effects of this potential hazardous procedure on the 1.6 million acres of federal public land and mineral rights in Santa Barbara, Ventura, San Luis Obispo, Kern, and neighboring counties. The targeted area includes 400,000 acres of public land and 1.2 million acres of federal mineral estates.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is required to create an EIS as the result of a lawsuit filed by Los Padres ForestWatch and the Center for Biological Diversity. The suit forced the agency stop issuing new leases in the region until they completed an EIS report that would adequately analyze the impacts of fracking. This report will likely follow the truncated rules of the the Trump Administration, which includes page number limits, time limits, and reduced transparency of the analysis process.
The war on California expands: Regarding the commencement of this EIS study, Clare Lakewood, an attorney for the Center of Biological Diversity, stated, “You can’t justify drilling for fossil fuels anymore, there is no way to come out with an environmental analysis and find out this is OK.”
Lakewood added that it was not a coincidence that this notice of intent is coming now, as the administration announced at the end of July that it would be weakening Obama-era standards on vehicle emissions standards, a move that would take away California’s ability to set its own heightened regulations and rewards oil and gas interests. (Extractive industries are also being helped by wiping out Endangered Species Act restrictions. Be sure to comment and call here.)
“It’s a coordinated attack on California by the Trump administration.” Lakewood said.
But there are regulations to keep us safe!: The Trump administration is currently intent on relaxing the safety rules on the offshore drilling industry that were designed to prevent another BP disaster. Last year, the EPA stated that it wouldn’t issue a regulation to make hard-rock mining companies pay for the costs to clean up their mines when they’re finished. The people charged with protecting us have already rescinded over 70 environmental regulations, which, by an analysis by Harvard University, will result in an estimated extra 80,000 deaths per decade and cause respiratory illness in more than a million people. (Check out the oil and gas threat map from Earthworks as to where populations are most at risk.) It is likely that if the oil and gas industry finds a fracking regulation irksome or more costly, it will be removed.
What is fracking anyway…?: (Los Padres Forest Watch) “Hydraulic fracturing – commonly known as “fracking” – is a process whereby water, sand, and thousands of gallons of chemical additives are injected underground to break apart rock formations and stimulate the extraction of oil and gas. The technique has come under increasing scrutiny from scientists, regulators, and the public due to concerns with groundwater contamination, surface water pollution, water consumption, and public health. Hundreds of fracking chemicals are known to be toxic to humans and wildlife, and several are known to cause cancer, according to several peer-reviewed studies by scientists and state regulators. A 2015 report from the California Council on Science and Technology highlighted these risks.” And fracking already compromises California’s supply of water, while California’s Central Valley is actually sinking due to water overextraction.
Where is going to happen?: Here.
Who benefits? (This is FYI, not for the comments) At least with the offshore drilling that Trump administration is also threatening us with, it’s the usual suspects. It’s been 30 years since the last offshore lease was officially approved. Today, there are 43 active leases in federal waters off California. Several are owned by the Koch Industries, the people at the heart of global warming denial. As for onshore drilling, according to Clean Water Action, here are the biggest stake holders:
- Occidental Corporation (Oxy) is the largest holder of land/ mineral rights in California, holding rights to drill over 1.6 million acres of land in the Monterey Shale. In a presentation to shareholders in 2010, Oxy officials stated that “in 10 years, California shale could become Oxy’s largest business unit.”
- Venoco Inc. has one of the largest stakes in the Monterey Shale with rights to drill in over 300,000 acres. There are more than 10 billion barrels of oil available for extraction at its current sites. In its 2011 report to shareholders, the company stated that it continues to expand its onshore Monterey acreage lease holdings across three basins: Santa Maria, Salinas Valley, and San Joaquin (which includes the Sevier discovery).
- Apparently, oil and gas industry officials feel optimistic that regulatory agencies won’t present an obstacle to plans to develop their oil and gas leases in California. Tim Marquez, founder,Chairman and Chief Executive of Venoco, said in 2011, “[w]e are shoring up our development plans for the Sevier discovery and have been in contact with the agencies to ensure we have a clear path forward to develop this discovery. We currently expect to drill 30 to 40 wells there next year.”
What do we get out of it?: (This is FYI, not for the comments) Almost nothing. Our government leases land to oil, gas and coal companies for a minimum bid of $2 an acre. 40% of leases have been sold at that level. The royalty rate for gas and oil produced onshore has remained at 12.5%, the same rate as in 1920. Do oil, gas and coal companies need discounted rates? No.
- Trump Administration Begins Process to Reopen 1.6 Million Acres in California to Oil Drilling and Fracking (lpfw.org)
- New offshore oil drilling proposed off California coast by Trump administration (mercury news)
- Trump Moves to Open 1.6 Million Acres of California Public Lands to Fracking (Ecowatch)