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BLM opens up land on Central, South Coasts for fracking, drilling

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Protesters gathered outside a fracking meeting in SLO County in March. (Kacey Drescher/KEYT)

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - Drilling and fracking could soon resume on 1.2 million acres of land across California, including on the Central and South Coasts.

On Thursday the Trump Administration signed off on ending a five-year moratorium on new oil drilling and fracking in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Ventura, eastern Fresno, western Kern, Kings, Madera, and Tulare counties. Previously, oil companies weren't able to lease federal public land in the state for oil drilling.

Fracking, which is short for "hydraulic fracturing," has been criticized for being harmful to the environment. Opponents voiced concerns about water contamination and the potential for fracking to cause earthquakes.

The Bureau of Land Management released the decision Thursday and said its analysis "shows that there are no adverse environmental impacts due to hydraulic fracturing that cannot be alleviated."

Several meetings were held earlier this year to talk about the potential plan, including in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara, where dozens showed up to protest.

At the time, a BLM spokesperson said fracking in California would be different than fracking in other areas due to the geology in California. The BLM also said 10 percent of the oil that Californians use every day is actually produced on public land, and only 5 percent of those federal leases utilized fracking.

In July, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors voted in favor of a resolution opposing the oil drilling and fracking plan, however, it was just a symbolic vote.

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Lindsay Zuchelli

Lindsay Zuchelli is the Executive Producer at News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Lindsay, click here.


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