A California bill designed to stymie the Trump administration’s possible plans to expand oil and natural gas development on state and federal lands is on its way to the desk of Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Staff for Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi, who authored Assembly Bill (AB) 342, said the legislation would prohibit any California agency with leasing authority over state-managed public lands from entering into leases that authorize construction of oil- and gas-related infrastructure to support production, including on national monuments lands. The bill passed the legislature on Monday.
"The federal administration plans to open more than 700,000 acres of federal land to oil and gas leasing, and this bill will help protect these threatened lands,” said Muratsuchi.
Trump signed an executive order (EO) in 2017 ordering the Department of Interior to review the Antiquities Act of 1906, claiming it could potentially impact future oil and natural gas development.
Language contained in the EO, including that certain monument designations may "create barriers to achieving energy independence," suggested that the administration could reverse the exclusion of public land for various uses, including energy development.
The California Independent Petroleum Association criticized the legislation as ambiguous.
CEO Rock Zierman said California’s lands commission “could determine an extension or renewal is a new lease and deny it on those grounds alone...Eliminating existing facilities increases imported foreign oil, eliminates jobs, reduces state tax revenues, while having no environmental benefits."
Newsom plans to “evaluate the bill on its own merits,” a spokesperson said.
Muratsuchi also is sponsoring AB 345, which would mandate a 2,500-foot "health and safety buffer zone" between new wells and sensitive land uses, including schools, day care centers, residences and hospitals. Nearly 5.5 million Californians live within one mile of an oil or gas well, Muratsuchi noted.