Trump Wants to Open Santa Clara Valley Land for Oil Wells

The federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced a plan to open about 800,000 acres of public lands and underground federal mineral rights across California’s Central Coast to new oil and gas drilling—with additional targets in Santa Clara County.

The BLM said the new plan, coming less than a month after it announced a plan to allow drilling on more than one million acres of federal land near Bakersfield, should result in 75 new oil wells in California over the next 20 years.

The announcement produced a not-unexpected chorus of objections from elected officials in the Central Coast region, including Rep. Jimmy Panetta, state Sen. Bill Monning and Assemblyman Robert Rivas.

California is the sixth largest oil-producing state, providing more than 8 percent of U.S. crude oil production from thousands of private wells, most in the San Joaquin Valley. The California Department of Conservation reported that as of April 2018, there were 15 active oil and gas wells in Santa Clara County.

The wells are operated by six companies on private land.

BLM’s plan would greatly expand the opportunity to obtain oil and gas leases on federal land, much of it in fragile, remote settings on the Central Coast.

The BLM’s proposed “resource management plan” published in the Federal Register May 10 analyzed six alternative approaches to oil and gas leasing and development, specified which BLM-managed public lands or below-ground mineral rights would be open to future oil and gas leasing and identified the stipulations or restrictions that would be applied “to protect resources.”

The resulting land-use management decisions would affect underground federal mineral rights primarily located in Fresno, Monterey and San Benito counties—but also swaths of the Santa Clara Valley.

Rivas on May 13 asked Gov. Gavin Newsom to contest the unprecedented increase of oil exploration on public land, officially asking the governor file a protest, saying that the Trump Administration’s plans are inconsistent with state and local laws.

“This is not a Republican or Democratic issue. Fighting this destructive plan is the right thing to do to protect our health and our future,” said Rivas, who as a county supervisor in 2014 led California’s first successful anti-fracking referendum. “This move by the President was void of research or community input. That’s why I’m calling on the governor to use his power to review the proposal and highlight how this plan takes us backward and how it is out of touch with the will of the people. It is entirely inconsistent with state and local law.”

BLM regulations provide a 60-day window for Newsom to review the plan for any inconsistencies with state and local plans and policies and to provide recommendations. The general public has a 30-day protest period.

Panetta encouraged all residents to participate in the public comment period and share their opinions on opening more federal land to oil and gas leases.

“Our community is concerned about expanded oil and gas exploitation on the Central Coast,” he said in a statement. “It is critical that we share our opinion of the proposal directly with this administration.”

“The Trump Administration’s call to drill in vast areas of our community is a direct assault on our vital agricultural economy,” said Rivas in his May 13 statement. “The unlawful action will also destroy local tourism, which could imperil thousands of our local small business owners.”

“This attack on our communities is a distraction from the pressing issues we are all working to solve, like our farmworker housing shortage, the growing homelessness crisis, and the urgent need to improve our public education system,” Rivas said.

“I want us to be known for protecting our environment for future generations. I urge all residents to join me to stand up for what is right.”

Monning, in a statement, said: “The Central Coast already faces severe impacts of climate change. In California, we are moving to zero emissions, and this decision represents a step backward in protecting the health of our communities from the consequences of climate change. It also threatens the public health and safety of all Californians.”

The area considered by BLM to contain the “highest potential” for oil and gas resources generally covers the southern Salinas Valley of Monterey County, southeastern San Benito County (east of the San Andreas Fault zone) and the western flank of the San Joaquin Valley, including portions of western Fresno, Merced and Stanislaus counties.

There are 41 active or abandoned oil and gas fields in this area. Of these, only 13 contain underground mineral rights managed by the BLM, known as “federal mineral estate.”

Environmentalists are concerned about the potential impact of oil and gas well drilling on groundwater resources. The state Department of Water Resources said that the BLM owns no underground oil and gas rights in the 50-square-mile Bitterwater Valley groundwater basin, the 38-square-mile San Benito River Valley basin or the 116-square-mile San Juan Bautista Area basin in northern San Benito County.

Most of the new wells in the giant Coalinga Field south of San Benito County in recent years, 76 percent, use “steam injection and water flood techniques”—also known as fracking, according to the BLM. A BLM spokesperson said most of the proposed new wells in the expanded region would not involve fracking.

The controversy over the development of oil and gas resources has been going on since 1921 when the first development was permitted. The San Joaquin Valley is home to 22 giant oil fields, each producing more than 100 million barrels of oil.

Since 1969, the concern about potential environmental damage resulting from a massive Santa Barbara oil spill resulted in a statewide moratorium on new coastal or offshore oil and gas leases, which continues.

However, the State Lands Commission reported that in 2017, 23 offshore rigs were still producing more than 7,000 barrels of oil per day, about one-tenth of the production at the time of the moratorium 50 years ago.

The BLM manages nearly 600 oil and gas leases in California, covering more than 200,000 acres. Between 80 and 90 percent of the agency’s oil and gas wells are in the San Joaquin Valley and more than 95 percent of all federal drilling occurs in established fields in Kern County.

California’s federal production accounts for less than 10 percent of the state’s oil and natural gas production. The latest action by the Trump administration follows by one year the announcement of a plan to revise the 50-year-old offshore drilling moratorium, opposed by state agencies and environmental groups.

The state Lands Commission, chaired at the time by then-Lt. Gov. Newsom, said it would not approve new pipelines or allow use of existing pipelines to transport oil from new offshore leases. “The polluting fossil fuel industry has perpetuated inequality by burdening disadvantaged communities with toxic air pollution from refineries, and it would be unethical to intensify these impacts by expanding oil production,” he said.

“I am resolved that not a single drop from Trump’s new oil plan ever makes landfall in California, where our leadership in reducing emissions and curbing pollution has enabled exceptional economic growth. We will not be complacent in the face of Donald Trump’s deliberate partisan assault on California, its people, and its economy, and we will use every tool available to resist his cynical, regressive agenda.”


  1. Gavin should review the BLM’s proposal to find out where the rigs would go, then install solar panels and wind turbines there instead. #leaveitintheground

    • .> then install solar panels and wind turbines there


      Why not just leave the land “pristine”?

      Democrats don’t need energy. What do Democrats use energy for anyway?

      iPhones don’t need energy. High Speed Rail doesn’t need energy. Transit villages don’t need energy. Low income housing and homeless shelters don’t need energy.

      All of the energy the Democrats need can be provided by energy conservation. But why do they need ANY energy?

  2. As the nations leader in high taxes and homelessness Governor Newscum should take a look at how many jobs can be added and how this can benefit the economy of california and the taxpayers.Guiding California to total collapse is not something I would expect from a governor who also supports ecological progress knowing of course that solar panels and wind turbines consume huge amounts of fuel in the production process.

  3. Got no issue with it although it won’t do a thing to reduce gas prices in the state. The more we break our dependance from foriegn oil the better.

  4. I think California should shut it all down now, No Gas, No Electric, No Water, No New buildings. No New Cars, Oh you can have your Tesla you just can’t plug it into the grid. Hand crank generators, Bicycles, Horses ( you can eat them when they get old )! Go back to living in caves, and dead cars and eating nuts berries and small animals.

    Most of these Green nut jobs will be dead in a week and you can then go back to living in civilization.

    • Let’s not go to extremes now, Gunn. Relax, take a breath (you can still do that here in California because we have those, you know, environmental laws).

      • > Relax, take a breath (you can still do that here in California because we have those, you know, environmental laws).

        You’re right.

        Those who haven’t starved to death will will be able to breathe.

        “Environmental laws” make production a “climate crime”, including food production.

        Breathing and eating will be a privileges reserved only to the strongest and meanest foragers.

      • OAC Extremes yes! Shut it all down man. Environmental laws are designed to kill success of the little people by making everything they need extremely expensive. California like Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela, should all be useful examples of how to destroy your happy environment with stupid rules that will make selected people very rich and powerful. Just look at the High Speed Rail boondoggle, solar power, wind farms, electric cars, all chosen by this cabal of politicians
        (the ruling class), billions of dollars of your tax money kicked back to those same donor in grants and contracts.

        California has gone third world, the middle class is leaving/escaping to places back in the United States as the socialist billionaires pick out the slaves that will work for them out of government paid for and run cheap tenement housing. Your word ends in 11 years SCCRazy, so shut it all down now and pass into that dustbin of history.

        • Gunn’s going off the rails! Calm down, buddy, you don’t have to stick around if you don’t want to. Nobody’s keeping you here.

          • Going off the rails, that’s what tire’s are for SC Crazy, It’s like freedom you choose what direction to go you don’t have to follow the dictates of the tracks. Get off the trolley. Closest track is 20 miles from here, don’t hear trains, planes, busses, garbage trucks. Don’t smell the dump, no poop on my side walk, no side walk, no needles to step on, no junkies to steal my stuff or assault my wife. Like the Borg collective I suppose being disconnected from the hive minded is terrifying to someone indoctrinated into the socialist mind set.

  5. SCCrazy,
    LOL, I’ve already escaped California. California will die by it own hand, strangling itself with stupid laws and over regulation, drowning in freeloaders and illegals gamming the system. Crime is rampant, law enforcement hiding, Gas price is ridicules, taxes draconian, and citizens are the enemy of the state.

    Please, please SC stay in the warm pile of poop you have created for your self, secede from the union, take NY with you. Don’t ever drive east of I5, stay in OZ with the (Big Green Commi Machine). Nobody has kept me here and I’m only coming back to save my family from the tyranny of the California mind set.
    Don’t poison the rest of the county with your hatred of America, keep it there where it will fester and die.

    • Going off the rails here, too. Now you’re starting to scare me!

      If you already left our wonderful Golden State, why do you keep looking back? Did you leave your heart in San Francisco? I can tell you miss us, honey. Kisses!

  6. Crazy sez:

    “The sooner we break our addition to oil, the better.”

    You first. Let’s see you go without fossil fuel products for even one day. That, as they say, will be the day.

    I’ll wait here, while you break your “addition” to oil, whatever that illiterate nonsense means.

    These are private wells on private land, but since the gov’t cannot stand it when honest citizens provide what other honest citizens are willing to freely pay for, government drones try to stop it. Then we’re forced to buy oil from Iran, or Venezuela. Could they be any more stupid, or anti-American?

    Every last argument against producing oil is bogus. Solar and wind turbines only work part time, if that. They’re no more than about 8% efficient, compared with 90%+ for fossil fuel generation. And the production of wind turbines and solar panels emits far more “carbon” than they save, in addition to sending our money to China — which continues to ramp up its CO2 emissions.

    The current wild-eyed arm waving over drilling ignores the fact that Californians have drilled for oil incessantly throughout the past century, helping to catapult this state into one of the world’s biggest economies. To listen to their eco-nonsense, “fracking” will cause widespread enviro-destruction.

    But… where’s the evidence?!?

    Answer: there is no evidence. It’s non-existent — just like the bodies that piled up when this state allowed widespread drillling for oil. Of course, there were no bodies. Drilling for oil never caused the problems these enviro-lunatics regularly predict. And drilling is at least ten times safer now.

    So-called “fracking” extracts oil from thousands of feet below the deepest aquifer through double-walled casement pipes, which are constantly scrutinized by EPA drones who desperately hope they can find evidence of a leak. But so far, they’ve been sadly disappointed.

    Likewise, none of the scary, alarming predictions about rising CO2 have ever come true. No exceptions: 0the Polar bear population has been multiplying despite the nutty Algore. And South Sea islands haven’t benn inundated by rising seas. Rather, they’re as much above the sea level as they were a century ago. Extreme weather events are declining, despite predictions that they would increase.

    Furthermore, global CO2 levels were higher than they are no a century ago. And despite the natural ramping up of CO2, global temperatures are well within their past parameters. There is nothing happening now that didn’t happen to a greater degree in the recent past.

    Finally, on time scales from months to hundreds of millennia, changes in CO2 always FOLLOW changes in global temperature. Effect cannot precede cause, so the major rise in CO2 must be caused by the oceans warming from the coldest episode on the entire Holocene; the Little Ice Age.

    The eco-alarmist crowd always ignores those verified facts, instead arguing with fact-free emotion.

    And they refuse to admit that ∆CO2 is CAUSED BY ∆T (temperature).

    If rising CO2 caused global warming, then the past century’s ≈40% rise in CO2 would have caused skyrocketing global temperatures. Take a look at this chart of the past century’s global temperatures, made from NASA’s own global temperature data:

    Question for the climate alarmist crowd: Where is your god now?

  7. > then install solar panels and wind turbines there instead.

    How is this going to work for high-rise transit villages?

    Only the rich people on the top floor will have the roof space for solar panels or for mounting their wind turbines.

    Sounds like the people on the lower floors are screwed, not to mention cold because of lack or electric heat and unhealthy because of vitamin D deficiencies due to lack of sunshine.

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