Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 9, 2022

Good News! Drilling, Fracking Blocked on 1M Acres of Public Lands

from Los Padres ForesWatch

We’ve secured a legal agreement that protects more than one million acres of public lands in central California from oil drilling and fracking.
The agreement—signed by ForestWatch and several partners, the State of California, and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management—suspends all new federal oil and gas leasing in Santa Barbara, Ventura, San Luis Obispo, and Kern counties and beyond, safeguarding some of our region’s most cherished open spaces and our communities.
We are so thrilled with this outcome and honored to share it with you, our members and supporters. You make victories like this possible. Thank you.
Since 2005, our small but mighty organization has spearheaded local efforts to make the Bureau more accountable to communities and the environment and less beholden to the fossil fuel industry. We were first to uncover the sheer outrageousness of the Bureau’s drilling and fracking plan, obtaining the Bureau’s mapping data, highlighting the places at stake, and generating thousands of public comments.
The plan would have allowed fossil fuel development to occur on or next to schools, neighborhoods, reservoirs, places of high value to Native American tribes, state beaches and parks, county open spaces, trails, and our national parks, forests, and monuments. There were no limits to where the Bureau would allow the fossil fuel industry to drill and frack.
So we took them to court, and just days ago, the ink dried on an agreement that protects these special landmarks. It was approved on Monday by a federal judge.
Places like Boney Mountain in the Santa Monica Mountains, the Ilvento Preserve in Ojai, the Cuyama Valley, Los Osos Middle School, Montana del Oro State Park, Lake Nacimiento, the Carrizo Plains Ecological Reserve, and more can now enjoy a reprieve.
Further afield, the agreement protects segments of the world-renowned Pacific Crest Trail, as well as gateways to Yosemite and Sequoia national parks. For fun, check out our interactive map to see all the areas that are protected with today’s announcement.
While we celebrate, we are also mindful that our victory—like so many—is not permanent. The agreement requires the Bureau to essentially go back to the drawing board and do a better job of reviewing the environmental impacts of drilling and fracking.
Our hope is that the Biden administration will use this opportunity to recognize that some places should simply be off-limits to drilling, and that our climate crisis requires bold action. And we will be there—with you and our partners—every step of the way to hold them accountable.
There will be new public hearings, new opportunities for public comments, new environmental documents to review, and—hopefully—a new decision that will move us towards a cleaner energy future. Our work is far from over.
But for now, let’s celebrate this wonderous news. We have much to be proud of. Our hard work paid off, and our communities, our climate, and these places we cherish are safe for now.

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