Proposal considers new oil and gas development on lands including those near Yosemite and Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks and Cesar E. Chavez National Monument.
BAKERSFIELD, CA – Today, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released a new Environmental Impact Statement, outlining the impacts of fracking within its Bakersfield planning region. This proposal considers new oil and gas development on lands covering more than 1.6 million acres across Central and Southern California. The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) and Central Valley Air Quality Coalition (CVAQ) are among the organizations raising concerns of threats over the sweeping energy development proposal.
Lands neighboring Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia National Parks; Giant Sequoia, Carrizo Plain, and Cesar Chavez National Monuments, as well as several national forests and private preserves are included in the proposal. Some of these lands lie within two miles of Sequoia National Park, which prompts concerns including worsening air quality for park visitors and the natural ecosystem.
“The risks posed to our national parks by further oil and gas development, particularly these iconic treasures that helped to inspire the modern-day conservation movement, is saddening to say the least,” said Mark Rose, NPCA’s Sierra Nevada Field Representative. “Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon already experience some of the worst air quality within the park system, posing unprecedented threats to visitors and the natural resources that call these places home. Any additional fracking near these treasured lands and the more than one million acres spanning from the Central Valley to the coast could be disastrous for our national parks, surrounding communities and other public lands.”
The Central California Valley and neighboring parks are already home to some of the largest oil fields in the United States, contributing to air quality consistently ranked the worst in the country. Further oil and gas development through hydraulic fracturing could exacerbate problems including poor air quality within neighboring Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. Sequoia National Park often sees more ozone exceedance days throughout the year than Los Angeles.
“The San Joaquin Valley is one of the most polluted air basins in the United States, and the oil and gas industry is a significant contributor,” said Genevieve Gale, Executive Director of the Central Valley Air Quality Coalition. “Poor air quality makes Valley residents more susceptible to asthma attacks, heart attacks, stroke, the development of heart and lung diseases, and premature death. Additional pollution from expanded oil and gas operations will likely hold us back in attaining federal clean air standards for pollutants such as ozone and fine particulates, thus endangering the lives of Valley residents.”
The BLM will open a 45-day public comment period for the proposal, through June 10, 2019.
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About National Parks Conservation Association: For 100 years, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than 1.3 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org/100
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Former West Coast Communications Manager