Trump admin revives oil leasing in California despite opposition

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(Reuters) – The Trump administration on Thursday will hold a sale of oil and gas leases on federal land in California for the first time in eight years despite widespread opposition to the auction in the Democratic state, including from its governor.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management will offer seven parcels covering 4,100 acres (16.59 square kilometers) of federal land in Kern County, which is home to most of the state’s drilling activity. The sale will be conducted online via the auction site EnergyNet.

The auction in the waning days of President Donald Trump’s administration represents yet another clash between Trump’s pro-fossil fuel agenda and the Golden State’s efforts to combat climate change – a battle that has been waged on issues ranging from auto emissions to curbs on pollution from the power sector.

Joe Biden, a Democrat who will succeed Trump on Jan. 20, has pledge to halt new oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters as part of a sweeping plan to fight global warming.

Federal drilling auctions in California were halted in 2013 after state officials filed lawsuits challenging the practice on environmental and health grounds.

BLM concluded last December that opening the lands to development presents no health risks.

State officials, including Governor Gavin Newsom, filed a formal protest against the sale with BLM last month.

“It is unacceptable that BLM finds insignificant, and fails to mitigate, the greenhouse gas emissions of the proposed leasing at a time when California is experiencing the devastating impacts of global climate change — with record temperatures and some of the worst wildfires and resulting air pollution in state history,” the complaint read.

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