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California lawmakers challenge Trump's bid to expand oil drilling and fracking statewide

Phil Willon, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- California on Monday sought to block the Trump administration from allowing new oil and gas wells in national parks and wilderness areas in the state.

Any new oil or gas projects approved in federally protected areas would be prohibited from having their pipelines or other essential infrastructure cross state lands, under legislation approved by California lawmakers.

"This bill is all about California fighting the Trump administration's plan to frack and drill in some of our most beautiful federal protected lands and national monuments," said Democratic Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi of Rolling Hills Estates, author of the bill.

That prohibition would include state lands near the Carrizo Plains National Monument in San Luis Obispo County, an area known for its spectacular wildflower blooms and potentially large reserves of oil and gas.

The legislation, AB 342, now heads to the desk of Gov. Gavin Newsom for his consideration. The Democratic governor has been a frequent critic of the Republican president's efforts to expand oil and gas drilling in California.

If signed by Newsom, the new law would add to California's portfolio of laws and litigation aimed at countering the Trump administration's bids to expand oil and gas exploration, relax environmental protections and dismantle Obama-era regulations to combat climate change.

 

California has filed more than 50 lawsuits over Trump administration actions on a variety of issues, including more than two dozen challenges to policies proposed by the EPA, the U.S. Department of the Interior and other federal agencies responsible for setting energy and fuel-efficiency standards.

During the summer, California circumvented the Trump administration's efforts to relax tailpipe pollution regulations by reaching a deal with four major automakers to gradually increase fuel-efficiency standards.

California lawmakers this week also may approve legislation that would allow state agencies to lock in protections under the federal Endangered Species Act, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Fair Labor Standards Act and other environmental and labor laws that were in place before President Donald Trump took office in January 2017.

Last year, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law blocking new offshore oil drilling in California by barring the construction of pipelines, piers, wharves or other infrastructure necessary to transport the oil and gas from federal waters to state land.

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