Trump administration wants to sell oil drilling leases in East Bay

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- The Trump administration isn't giving up plans to allow more oil drilling in California. It's just moving potential sites from the sea to the land.

The administration wants to sell oil and gas leases for nearly 800,000 acres of federal land across 11 counties-- including the East Bay hills. Critics are already lining up.

Dave Wilson has trained horses on and around Mt. Diablo for 30 years. He says the pristine backdrop helps him teach people how to speak horse and the animals how to be good partners. He can't imagine ruining the area with oil exploration.

"I think it's unnecessary and I think it's just a commercial way to get rid of the land."

The Trump Administration, through the Bureau of Land Management, has released a plan to sell oil and gas leases on hundreds of thousands of acres of federal land from the Central Valley to the East Bay. That includes land in or around Mt. Diablo State Park.

Clare Lakewood, an environmental attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity in Oakland, calls it a handover from the feds to private industry.

"The plan is a gift to the fossil fuel industry and an attack on California."

Lakewood fears the controversial practice of fracking, which forces liquid into the ground to force the oil out, would also lead to water pollution and the threat of more earthquakes.

But in a statement Friday, the California Independent Petroleum Association had this response, "Resuming federal lease sales will attract additional capital to California that is currently invested outside the state, creating additional good-paying California jobs that often don't require a college degree."

The Trump administration says the plan could lead to 37 new oil wells and bring in millions in new revenue-- but the opposition is already mobilizing.

"People need to be contacting the Bureau of Land Management. They need to be contacting their elected officials to get their objection to the wholesale handover of our public land and mineral estate on the record."

The next step is up to Governor Newsom, who has 60 days to decide whether the Trump administration plan violates any state laws or regulations.

Even if it does, they wouldn't be able to stop the administration, but they could slow them down.
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