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California Bans Leases for Oil, Gas Operations on Protected Land

Oct. 12, 2019, 8:27 PM

California won’t help companies that want to explore federal monuments and parks for oil and gas.

In another rebuke to the Trump administration, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Oct. 12 signed a bill that would prohibit state agencies from issuing permits or leases that link to new oil and gas projects on land that is—or was at one time—protected by federal authorities.

That includes national monuments, parks, wilderness areas, and wildlife refuges.

The bill, by Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi (D), is in response to federal actions to slim down protected land and open it for exploration.

In December, President Donald Trump signed a proclamation removing 861,000 acres from the boundaries of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah. And the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in August released a proposal to allow coal mining and oil and gas development on those excised lands.

The state’s move has precedent.

Last year, California prohibited the State Lands Commission or local representatives from signing new leases or permissions to build new oil- and gas-related infrastructure on state tidal and other lands if those agreements were related to federal leases for the Outer Continental Shelf.

Other Oil and Gas Bills

The bill was among a number of measures Newsom signed related to oil and gas development in California.

AB1328 requires two state agencies to study defunct oil and gas wells to measure if greenhouse gases, toxic air contaminants, volatile organic compounds, and other pollutants are escaping into the air.

“These reforms and new leadership will enhance the safety of existing oil wells, refocus the state’s geologic energy division to better consider public health and fight against the Trump Administration’s efforts to expand oil extraction in California,” Newsom said in a news release.

Newsom also signed SB551, which requires oil and gas well operators to report to the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources beginning in July 2022 the estimated liability to plug and abandon wells and decommission related production facilities. That estimate would have to include site restoration and remediation.

To contact the reporter on this story: Emily C. Dooley at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Gregory Henderson at; Anna Yukhananov at