By Bradford Betz
Published October 06, 2019
The federal government has opened hundreds of thousands of acres of public lands in California for oil and gas drilling as part of a broader effort to strengthen energy independence.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued its final decision Friday, allowing oil and gas leases on plots mostly in the Central Valley and parts of the Central Coast.
The 725,000 acres of public land in Central California had been off-limits to oil and gas drilling since 2013.
The plan, initially announced in May, was part of a Trump administration goal to make the U.S. energy-independent. Critics have called it a string of giveaways to the industry.
BLM received more than 400 objections of its plan over a 30-day protest period but ruled none of them were valid, the Sacramento Bee reported.
Environmentalists who successfully blocked the Obama administration from opening the land to drilling criticized the new development.
Officials at the Center for Biological Diversity called the effort reckless and said they would continue to fight the government.
BLM officials said additional approval would be required before any drilling.