The federal government suspends new drilling and fracking leases on public land in Central California

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Oil pumps and equipment are reflected in a pool of water at the South Belridge oil field in Kern County. (Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times)

California Etsy. General Rob Bonta announced Monday that the state is in agreement with the federal government to halt new oil and gas leases on public lands in Central California until the potential risks to public health and the environment are adequately assessed. has done

The moratorium comes after years of legal challenges from environmental organizations and the state of California, which under Donald Trump urged the US Bureau of Land Management to fully open more than 1 million acres of federal land in Central California without drilling and hydraulic fracturing. was accused. To investigate possible impacts on air quality and groundwater.

Hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as fracking, is a common practice used to extract more oil and natural gas by injecting a mixture of highly pressurized water, sand and toxic chemicals into underground rock formations. Fracking chemicals have the potential to contaminate nearby aquifers and release harmful air pollution linked to an increased risk of asthma, heart disease and certain cancers.

Research also shows that fracking can produce small tremors.

“Fracking is dangerous to our communities, harmful to our environment, and not in line with California’s climate goals,” Bonta said in a statement Monday. “The Trump administration recklessly opened Central California to new oil and gas drilling, without considering how polluted groundwater, toxic air emissions, minor earthquakes, climate impacts and more could harm communities. Ours In keeping with the Bureau of Land Management’s mission to preserve the health of public lands, it should re-evaluate this Trump-era mistake.”

Bonta alleged, along with his predecessor Javier Becerra, that the federal agency did not fully evaluate or adequately consider these potential impacts on 1.2 million acres in Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara. How to reduce them to the ground. , Tulare and Ventura counties.

Under the agreement announced Monday, the Bureau of Land Management, the federal agency responsible for overseeing oil and gas development on federal and Native American tribal lands, has agreed not to lease these lands until it can be reviewed. that properly addresses these environmental concerns.

“Protecting public lands is not only a step forward, but also a way of taking many steps back,” said Cesar Aguirre, a senior organizer at the Central California Environmental Justice Network. “Using public land to promote the oil industry is dangerous for our green spaces and communities. We must protect our public lands not only to enjoy, but also to protect the earth.”

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.