Settlement prevents new federal fracking leases in California

Sacramento, Calif. (AP) — Leasing for new oil and gas drilling on federal lands in central California is temporarily blocked under an agreement announced Monday between the state and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

The deal, which still requires court approval, focused on more than 2,500 square miles (6,475 square kilometers) of land and subsurface mineral rights owned by the federal government in California’s Central Valley, which is responsible for oil and gas activity. is the center. It prohibits the federal government from leasing any land for drilling until it completes a new review of the environmental damage that can be caused by fracking, a process used to extract oil and gas from reefs. is used for.

“Fracking is dangerous to our communities, harmful to our environment, and out of step with California’s climate goals,” California Attorney General Rob Bonta said in a statement announcing the agreement.

Controversy over federal drilling activity on the land began in 2014, when the Obama administration wanted to lease the land. Environmental groups sued, arguing that the plan failed to assess environmental damage. According to the settlement, in 2017, the bureau agreed to provide additional environmental reviews.

Later, the Trump administration went ahead with the 2014 plan without any significant changes. Environmental groups sued again, and so did the state of California, arguing that the federal government failed to assess how fracking affects water, air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, recreational use of land, seismic impacts and more. Will do

Fracking is the process of injecting a high-pressure mixture of mostly water with some sand and chemical additives into the rock to create or expand fractures that allow oil and gas to be extracted. This is a controversial practice due to concerns about injected chemicals contaminating groundwater.

The agreement prohibits any sale of oil and gas leases on federal lands around Bakersfield until an appropriate environmental review is completed.

The Biden administration tried to suspend the sale of leases for oil and gas drilling on federal lands, but was blocked by a court. The first auction of onshore leasing since Biden took office began in late June. Available land covers approximately 225 square miles (580) square kilometers in most western states, but none in California.

California Governor Gavin Newsom has called for a new fracking permit to be banned on state-permitted land starting in 2024. Fracking accounts for only a small percentage of oil production in the state. Newsom’s administration has already begun denying fracking permits based solely on climate change concerns, prompting oil and gas groups to sue.

Kevin Slaggle, a spokesman for the Western States Petroleum Association, said decisions that make energy production difficult in California would cause prices to rise.

“It is unfortunate that President Biden is asking other countries to increase production while our governors are working hard to deplete domestic resources,” he said in a statement.

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