Tuesday, November 20, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 37
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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on September 12th, 2018, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 19, Issue 28 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 19, Issue 28

Jackson and Limón speak out against BLM plans for drilling and fracking

By Spencer Cole

 

A pair of Central Coast state legislators took aim at the fossil fuels industry and the Trump administration by voicing their opposition to a plan that would open California federal lands to oil drilling and fracking. 

On Sept. 7, Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) and Assemblymember Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara) sent a letter to the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) field office manager, Gabriel Garcia, in Bakersfield. Its contents revolved around the BLM's proposal to open roughly 270,000 acres of federal land and mineral estate in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties to fracking and oil drilling.

Fracking is a process that involves injecting water, sand, and chemicals at high velocities into the ground to break up rock and extract oil and gas. The fossil fuel industry says the practice is relatively safe, while environmentalists argue it pollutes water supplies and contributes to an increase in earthquakes. 

"This plan is overly broad, is insensitive to local community needs, and its health considerations dangerously imperils entirely new population centers to significant adverse health consequences [sic]," the letter says. 

Jackson and Limón pointed to adjacent population centers at risk from any new oil and gas operations, including coastal areas "heavily visited by tourists," along with neighborhoods, and community facilities, like primary schools. They said the plan "trammels the intention" of local residents trying to protect their homes from adverse environmental and health impacts.

The letter also criticized the limited 30-day window the BLM gave the public to comment on the proposal. The deadline to submit any comments closed on Sept. 7. 

Jeff Kuyper, executive director of Los Padres Forest Watch, also questioned the short time frame the federal agency gave members of affected counties to voice their opinion. The environmental nonprofit is against the plan. 

"Central California residents are concerned about the impacts of drilling and fracking near our region's most treasured forests, wildlife refuges, national monuments, and nature preserves," Kuyper said. "We need to tell the Trump administration loud and clear that we're not willing to pollute and industrialize these iconic landscapes."

After the deadline closed for public comment, the BLM's Garcia told the Sun that the agency still needed to conduct an Environmental Impact Statement and that more public meetings about proposed drilling and fracking would be held within the next year. 

Garcia added it was unlikely that many fracking or drilling projects would go forward in Santa Barbara County because so far the BLM had received little interest from potential bidders. 




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