BAKERSFIELD, Calif.— Environmental and community groups joined by elected officials will hold rallies this week to blast the Trump administration’s draft plan to open more than a million acres of public land and mineral estate in central California to oil drilling and fracking. The rallies will precede each of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s public hearings in Bakersfield, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara.
When: Tuesday, May 21; rally at 4:30 p.m., hearing at 6 p.m.
Where: Kern County Administrative Office, 1115 Truxtun Ave., Bakersfield, CA 93301
Who: Speakers include Delano City Councilmember Bryan Osorio, Sandy Reding of the California Nurses Association, Maya Golden-Krasner of the Center for Biological Diversity and residents directly harmed by local oil operations. Representatives from the Central California Environmental Justice Network, Central Valley Air Quality Coalition, Sierra Club Kern-Kaweah Chapter and Sierra Club Tehipite Chapter will also be on hand for interviews.
San Luis Obispo
When: Wednesday, May 22; rally at 5 p.m., hearing at 6 p.m.
Where: Embassy Suites, 333 Madonna Road, San Luis Obispo, CA 93405
Who: Speakers include San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon, a representative for U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal, Northern Chumash Tribal Council Chairman Fred Collins, Jeff Kuyper of Los Padres ForestWatch, Andrew Christie of the Sierra Club Santa Lucia Chapter, Carmen Bouquin of SLO County Youth for Environmental Action and Sunrise Movement Central Coast and Charles Varni of SLO Surfrider. Representatives from the Center for Biological Diversity, Food and Water Watch and No SLO Fracking will also be on hand for interviews.
When: Thursday, May 23; rally at 5 p.m., hearing at 6 p.m.
Where: Santa Barbara City College-West Campus, Fé Bland Forum, 721 Cliff Drive, Santa Barbara, CA 93019
Who: Speakers include Santa Barbara County Supervisor Joan Hartmann, a representative for U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal, a representative for State Assemblymember Monique Limón, a representative for State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, Ana Rosa Rizo-Centino of Food and Water Watch, Graciela Cabello of Los Padres ForestWatch, a representative for Cate School and a representative for Patagonia. Representatives from 350 Santa Barbara, Center for Biological Diversity and Sierra Club Los Padres Chapter will also be on hand for interviews.
On April 25 the Bureau of Land Management released a draft “environmental impact statement” proposing to open up 1,011,470 acres of public land and federal mineral estate in Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare and Ventura counties to fossil fuel extraction.
The plan would end a five-year-old moratorium on leasing federal public land in the state to oil companies. The BLM has not issued a single lease in California since 2013, when a federal judge first ruled that the agency had violated the National Environmental Policy Act by issuing oil leases in Monterey County without considering fracking’s environmental dangers.
Fracking is an extreme oil-extraction process that blasts toxic chemicals mixed with water underground to crack rocks. According to the BLM, about 90 percent of new oil and gas wells on public lands are fracked.
A 2015 report from the California Council on Science and Technology concluded that fracking in California happens at unusually shallow depths, dangerously close to underground drinking water supplies, with unusually high concentrations of toxic chemicals. The public lands at stake encompass “numerous groundwater systems that contribute to the annual water supply used by neighboring areas for agricultural and urban purposes,” a federal judge noted in 2016.
The hearings on the draft central California leasing plan come two weeks after the Trump administration released its final plan to open more than 700,000 acres of public land and mineral estate on California’s Central Coast and in the Bay Area to drilling and fracking.