The Bureau of Land Management announced it approved oil and gas leasing and development in Fresno, Monterey, and San Benito counties, Friday.
This follows Trump Administration plans to open public lands in California for oil and gas exploration. Friday’s decision opens up roughly 700,000 acres to possible fracking and oil drilling practices.
“From a tourism and agricultural prospective this is a region that is so dependent on our agricultural economy that really opening up our BLM lands to controversial oil extraction is very inconsistent with our local economy and our values,” Assemblymember Robert Rivas said.
Rivas has been vocal in opposing opening land for fossil fuel drilling.
“Make sure that message continues to be heard not only us locally, but at the state capital and certainly in Washington DC,” Rivas said.
Monterey County’s San Ardo field, with more than 600 producing wells, makes it the fourth largest oil producing county in the state.
The BLM estimates that the oil and gas industry on private and public lands directly supports approximately 3,000 jobs and $620 million in tax revenue within the Central Coast Field Office jurisdiction.
“A lot of them are chemical engineering, some real production type jobs, and we couldn’t be happier to have the jobs down in south county,” South Monterey County rancher Walt Duflock said in May.
The pushback is strong and protect Monterey county says preventing will have to come from the state level.
“Really take some action at the state level because at the state level we’re really not going to see any recognition of the climate disaster that we’re facing,” Dr. Laura Soloria, the president of protect Monterey County said.
This decision opens the door for up to 37 new oil and gas wells over the next two decades.
No lease sales to gas and oil companies have happened in our state since 2013 when a court ruled BLM didn’t consider risks of fracking when issuing leases in Monterey county.