Trump Administration Ends Moratorium on Drilling in California

Published on October 5, 2019 by Athena Pallas

“This reckless move is the toxic convergence of Trump’s climate denial, loyalty to the oil industry and grudge against California,” said Clare Lakewood, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, according to The Hill, in response to the Trump administration’s decision to end a moratorium on oil and gas drilling in California, with Lakewood adding, “Turning over these spectacular wild places to dirty drilling and fracking will sicken Californians, harm endangered species and fuel climate chaos. We’ll fight tooth and nail to make sure it doesn’t happen.”

The Trump administration announced on Friday that it will open up 725,000 acres of public land along California’s central coast to oil and gas drilling leases, ending a five year moratorium on such drilling. No federal drilling lease sales have been made in California since 2013, due to a court ruling that found that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) had failed to consider fully the risks of fracking. Now the Trump administration’s BLM has created a new environmental impact study which, not surprisingly considering the source, found it appropriate to proceed with drilling. According to The Hill:

The Trump administration Friday announced it would make 725,000 acres of land in California’s central coast open to oil and gas lease sales, ending a five-year moratorium. The decision by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) made the federal land available for fossil fuel production across Fresno, Monterey, San Benito and other counties for the first time in half a decade. …The BLM said the decision is in line with Trump’s May 2017 executive order for promoting U.S. energy independence. …No federal lease sales have occurred in California since 2013, when a court ruled BLM failed to consider the risks of fracking when it issued oil leases in Monterey and Fresno. The BLM has since conducted and filed new environmental impact studies on drilling in the area. Environmental groups harshly criticized the administration’s decision and threatened to take legal action.

This decision by the Trump administration goes against California’s own priorities of turning away from fossil fuels to focus on cleaner, renewable energy sources. Last year California committed to having a 100% renewable energy electric grid by the year 2045. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) spoke out against the Trump administration’s decision to end the moratorium, saying, according to The Hill, “In California, we’re already well on our way to energy independence and we’re doing it in the smart way. This is 2019, not 1920. We don’t need to jeopardize our health or our environment to develop the energy sources we need.”

The Trump administration continues to favor industry over the environment. When it comes to energy, there really are ways to do both. Putting extra resources into the development and usage of renewable energy sources is pro-environment, yet can also help to build the renewable energy industry, creating jobs in the process; some of the workers in the fossil fuel industry could transitioned to these jobs. There really is no valid reason to set that option, focusing on renewable energy, aside and to focus so heavily on the fossil fuels that are damaging the environment and the climate. Dated thinking, stubbornness, and a blind dismissal of environmental concerns seems to be at play in Trump’s energy policies.

It seems likely that this decision to end the drilling moratorium will face a number of lawsuits in an effort to stop the drilling lease sales from being made.

Featured image of President Trump and Energy Secretary Rick Perry via Wikimedia Commons.