Pump Jack at the Lost Hills Oil Field In Central California. Source: Wikimedia

The Trump Administration seems to have made environmental destruction a centerpiece of its agenda, in open rebellion against the scientific consensus on the dangers of climate change, to please its allies in the oil, gas, and mining industries. On May 9, 2019, for example, the Trump administration finalized a controversial plan, entitled “The Proposed Resource Management Plan Amendment and Final Environmental Impact Statement for Oil and Gas Leasing and Development,” to open 725,500 acres of public lands and mineral estate across California’s Central Coast and the Bay Area to new oil and gas drilling.

This move comes just weeks after the Trump administration released its draft plan to reopen more than a million acres of public land and federal mineral estate in the Central California region, including Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare, and Ventura counties, to fossil fuel extraction. Together the plans target a total of 1,736,970 acres across 19 California counties.

These plans are an anathema to the majority of Californians, who value our beautiful public lands and want to see them preserved for the health of the environment and the enjoyment of future generations. Prohibiting new oil and gas operations is also essential for our health and safety – in our air, water, and communities.

Fortunately, AB 342, by Assemblyman Muratsuchi of Torrance, California, just passed the Assembly and now moves to the California Senate. It would prohibit any California state agency, commission, or other entity with leasing authority from entering into any new lease or other conveyance authorizing new construction of oil and natural gas-related infrastructure upon public lands that are designated as, or were at any time designated as, federally protected. If passed, AB 342 will therefore prevent the Trump Administration’s attempt to open up these public lands to oil, gas, and mining interests because they will be unable to build the infrastructure necessary to facilitate the transportation of their products to their intended markets.

AB 342 is an important bulwark against the wholesale, reckless attacks on the environment that characterize the Trump Administration’s agenda. Every Californian who values our precious public lands should give their wholehearted support to this important bill. Tellingly, there was no opposition to AB 342 in the California Assembly. Urge your state senators to support this piece of legislation!

Along the same lines as this state legislation, please consider signing this important petition to the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) which has recently proposed opening up almost a million acres of public land in Central and Northern Calif to new oil and gas drilling. Thanks to our friends at the Sunflower Alliance for putting the petition together.

Also, if you are on twitter, help us show appreciation to Assemblymember Muratsuchi (@AsmMuratsuchi) for his leadership on this bill and another important bill AB 345, which would create 2500 foot setbacks from new oil and gas operations near populated areas. This bill has been set aside this year, but will need our active support next year. This is what climate championship looks like. Thanks, Mr. Muratsuchi!