Energy production could return to Federal lands in the Valley

A move to open hydraulic fracturing on federal lands in the San Joaquin Valley and Central Coast took a step forward last week.

The Bureau of Land Management announced Thursday it finalized a supplemental environmental report on fracking impacts on Federal lands in the San Joaquin Valley and Central Coast finding that energy exploration did not exceed a threshold of environmental harm to reverse prior findings.

Despite the finding, a move to restart oil and gas lease auctions is still on the horizon. The department still must finalize analysis on operations and issue a record of decision to the Federal Register.

In sum, the report covered environmental impacts of energy extraction on 400,000 surface acres of public lands across Fresno, Kern, Kings, Tulare, Madera, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties.

The report was ordered by Los Angeles Federal district Judge Michael Fitzgerald as part of a lawsuit contesting a prior environmental report for its failure to analyze fracking impacts.

While preparing the newly-issued report, BLM hosted three public meetings to solicit comment on its scoping report. Following the meetings, held in Bakersfield, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Barbara, the Bureau announced that it received 16,000 comments. Of that 16,000 only 118 comments were “unique and substantive.”

BLM noted that energy production occurring on public lands accounts for less than 10 percent of the total oil and gas produced in the Golden State.

Photo: BLM

Alex Tavlian is the Executive Editor of The San Joaquin Valley Sun and Executive Director of Valley Future Foundation. You can reach Alex at