Trump Wants to Drill, Baby, Drill in California

California residents have made their views on oil and gas exploration very clear: They’re not interested, even though California is actually the fourth-largest oil producing state. That’s why a Trump Administration proposal to open 1.6 million acres of public lands for this purpose is likely to go over like a lead balloon.

Fortunately, there’s still time to stop it, and you don’t even need to live in California to weigh in on this environmental travesty. But you do need to act fast: The comment period for the initial stage is only 30 days, closing on September 7, 2018.

The Bureau of Land Management has announced that it plans to conduct an environmental review to determine the potential effects of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) on certain public lands in California, in connection with its larger plan to open more areas of the state to oil and gas leasing.

In accordance with the law, this requires the collection of public comments as well as consultation with stakeholders like Native tribes. It’s also important to know that this is the first step in a lengthy process; this isn’t free license to drill, but the collection of data that will be used to explore changes to the way these lands are managed. That’s actually good news, because it represents several opportunities to weigh in.

Government officials are floating the possibility of increasing oil and gas exploration on California lands managed by the federal government. Most of this activity takes place in the Central Valley and Southern California today, a trend that would continue if this plan goes forward. It would include a number of both coastal and inland counties with land available for energy leases, expanding oil and gas production — and profits for companies holding these leases.

Clare Lakewood, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, calls this part of Trump’s “war on California.” After the Trump Administration moved to roll back federal restrictions on fracking, California has been a leader in implementing its own rules, and suing to protect them. Multiple cities and counties in the state have already banned the practice, including in the kinds of unincorporated regions that the BLM is targeting, but they don’t have the authority to regulate federal lands.

Many residents are opposed to any kind of oil and gas exploration, which is very harmful for the environment, but they’re especially worried about fracking. While the government insists this process is perfectly safe, evidence suggests the contrary: Fracking has been associated with earthquakes and contaminated groundwater, for example. And fracking already compromises California’s supply of water, while California’s Central Valley is actually sinking due to water overextraction.

Any member of the public can file comments regarding this proposal. It should be noted that the government is specifically seeking comment on the impacts of fracking, not on the larger question of whether the state should have more oil and gas leases available. If you decide to add your comments, keep this in mind.

“The purpose of the public scoping process is to determine relevant issues that will influence the scope of the environmental analysis, including alternatives if necessary, and guide the planning process,” the government explains. That means you can list any and all things that you think they should consider during this process, and you don’t have to have all the answers. You can 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 may wish to think about the known environmental harms of fracking: Discuss those, and provide citations to back up your assertions. You can also discuss the potential personal impacts: 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.

No matter where you live, this is an important issue to weigh in on, because it touches on larger questions about energy policy and resource use across the United States. If the federal government is coming for California, a large state with substantial legal resources to fight these kinds of operations, it could be coming for other states, too.

Photo credit: Roy Luck/Creative Commons


Marie W
Marie W1 months ago

Thanks for sharing

Laura K
Laura K8 months ago


Adele E Zimmermann
Adele E Zimmermann8 months ago

This is not just about a misperception that America desperately needs oil. It is to fulfill a campaign pledge to remove any and all environmental bars to plundering America's wild lands for maximum profit for the Oligarchs. It is also to satisfy Donald Trump's vindictive animus toward a state that does not support him or his ruinous agenda.

Winn A
Winn A8 months ago


Margaret G
Margaret G8 months ago

I ;am sending a postcard urging no fracking permits. That card represents 10,000 opinions because so many people find it so difficult to write postcard.

hELEN hEARFIELD8 months ago


Mary B
Mary B8 months ago

Drill not just next to Trump's golf courses, but ON them, Then onto Mar Logo. And while he's busy messing up the environment, take over a few of his luxury hotels to house those immigrant families in, the ones he has separated, and all those illegal immigrants that Brian thinks are pouring in across our southern borders.

Winn A
Winn A8 months ago

tRUMP should be in jail.

Margie FOURIE8 months ago

All presidents/kings/prime ministers/sheiks/etc should realise that drilling/mining is in the past.

Debbi W
Debbi W8 months ago

I hope California can stop trump. The man's determined to decimate public land. Wonder if he has invested in the companies who would profit from his give-a-ways...

Wish Brown would stop all fracking in CA. That will damage the land beyond our ability to re-habit it.