SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California increased its efforts Friday to keep the federal government from allowing fracking on more than 1 million acres of public land, suing to block the Trump administration from issuing new permits in the central part of the state.
The federal lawsuit against the U.S. Bureau of Land Management follows a new state law also intended to counter Trump administration plans to increase oil and gas production on protected public land.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra sued on behalf of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration, saying the permits would allow the controversial extraction method called hydraulic fracturing, commonly called fracking.
Here in California, we won’t put our citizens’ health and lives in jeopardy to prop up the fossil fuel industry.
And we’re taking the Trump Admin to court to prove it. pic.twitter.com/bYyoyC1ekW
— Xavier Becerra (@AGBecerra) January 17, 2020
Newsom in October signed a law barring any California leasing authority from allowing pipelines or other oil and gas infrastructure to be built on state property. The law is intended to make it difficult for drilling to occur because federally protected areas are adjacent to state-owned land.
The suit filed in federal court in Los Angeles contends that the government’s environmental review did not adequately evaluate harmful effects on communities and the environment in Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare, and Ventura counties, and requests that the court set aside the decision.
Becerra said the bureau’s decision last month to move forward on a “half-baked proposal isn’t just misguided, it’s downright dangerous.”
“The risks to both people and the environment associated with fracking are simply too high to ignore,” he said in a statement.
Representatives with the Bureau of Land Management did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In fracking, producers inject water, sand and chemicals at high pressure into tight rock formations to extract oil and gas. Becerra said the chemicals can pollute nearby groundwater and release toxins into the air when it reaches the surface.
The lawsuit says the government failed to properly consider the potential water and air pollution, its affect on endangered species, or the possibility that the process could cause minor earthquakes or the land to subside.
It says the government inaccurately predicted that just four wells each year would use fracking. It argues that it also interferes with California’s goal of reducing climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, seven of the eight counties fail air quality standards for particulate matter, ozone, or both.
Becerra sued the bureau in 2018 over its repeal of the 2015 Fracking Rule, which governs the fracking of oil and gas wells on federal lands nationwide.