Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) led 34 members of the California Democratic Congressional Delegation expressing opposition to recent moves by the Trump Administration’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to open millions of acres of federal lands in California to new oil and gas development.
In a letter to U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt, the delegation wrote, “We urge you to immediately reconsider these proposals that expose the state and its citizens to unacceptable risks associated with oil and gas development, and that fly in the face of the public’s desire to protect underground sources of drinking water, mitigate climate change, and safeguard public resources for future generations.”
The Members point out that in the span of two weeks, the administration announced plans to open over 2 million acres of public and private land to new oil and gas drilling in 18 Counties in California, including Alameda, Contra Costa, Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, Monterey, San Benito, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Stanislaus, Tulare, and Ventura. These proposed sites are near residential areas, agricultural farm land, fragile drinking water aquifers, as well as protected areas including Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and Yosemite National Parks.
Ninety percent of all new oil and gas wells on public land use hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, in conjunction with other destructive extraction techniques as part of the oil and gas development process. These processes create millions of gallons of contaminated water which are injected under high pressure into the well, as well as releasing highly saline water that naturally exists underground alongside oil and gas deposits. These byproducts can spill during transport or storage, contaminating groundwater and polluting agricultural lands.
“Of the counties that BLM seeks to open to new oil and gas leasing,” the Members wrote, “Alameda, Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Cruz Counties have all banned fracking or new oil and gas development. 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. At a time when California is taking steps to address the climate crisis by electrifying its transportation sector and transitioning to a 100% clean and renewable energy grid, it is inexcusable that the administration would aggressively and unilaterally seek to open over 2 million acres of land to new oil and gas development.”
The letter concludes by admonishing the Trump Administration for not adequately measuring, “…the public health and environmental impacts of this decision but instead has steamrolled through the process to advance the administration’s narrow goal of catering to the oil and gas industry. We stand with our constituents in opposition to BLM’s plans to open federal lands in California to new oil and gas development.”
Cosigning onto the letter with Congressman Alan Lowenthal were California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala D. Harris as well as Congress Members Pete Aguilar (CA-31), Nanette Barragan (CA-44), Karen Bass (CA-37), Julia Brownley (CA-26), Salud Carbajal (CA-24), Tony Cardenas (CA-29), Susan Davis (CA-53), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Anna Eshoo (CA-18), Jimmy Gomez (CA-34), Katie Hill (CA-25), Jared Huffman (CA-02), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Mike Levin (CA-49), Ted Lieu (CA-33), Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Doris Matsui (CA-06), Jerry McNerney (CA-09), Grace Napolitano (CA-32), Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), Katie Porter (CA-45), Harley Rouda (CA-48), Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Adam Schiff (CA-28), Brad Sherman (CA-30), Jackie Speier (CA-14), Eric Swalwell (CA-15), Mark Takano (CA-41), Mike Thompson (CA-05), Juan Vargas (CA-51), and Maxine Waters (CA-43).
This article was released by the Office of Congressman Alan Lowenthal.