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Environment & Energy Report

Trump’s California Fracking Plan Targeted in New Lawsuit (1)

Jan. 14, 2020, 9:05 PMUpdated: Jan. 15, 2020, 6:52 PM

The Trump administration violated federal law by green lighting fracking and oil drilling on more than one million acres of public land in California without taking a hard look at the environmental impacts, a coalition of environmental organizations told the Central District of California Tuesday.

The groups are challenging the final supplemental environmental impact statement adopted by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management on Dec. 12, 2019.

The BLM violated the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to consider fracking’s potential harm to public health and recreation in the region, as well as by not sufficiently examining the harm to the climate and possible groundwater and air pollution, according to the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

BLM’s failure to adequately respond to comments on the shortcomings of its draft supplemental environmental impact statement also violated NEPA, the groups allege.

“Trump’s illegal, deeply unjust fracking plan would be a disaster for Central Valley communities, as well as our climate, wildlife and water,” Center for Biological Diversity attorney Clare Lakewood said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for BLM said the bureau’s supplemental analysis on fracking didn’t make any new public lands available to oil and gas development, or issue any new leases or approve any permits to drill.

“If proposed, those actions and the potential impacts would be addressed at the site or project-specific level in subsequent tiered environmental analysis,” Serena Baker, a BLM public affairs officer, told Bloomberg Law.

The plaintiffs are Center for Biological Diversity, Central California Environmental Justice Network, Los Padres ForestWatch, National Parks Conservation Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, Patagonia Works, Sierra Club, and The Wilderness Society.

The Sierra Club has received funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the charitable organization founded by Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg Law is operated by entities controlled by Michael Bloomberg.

Cause of Action: National Environmental Policy Act.

Relief: Declaratory and injunctive relief, attorneys’ fees and costs.

Attorneys: Attorneys for Earthjustice represent the plaintiffs.

The case is Ctr. for Biological Diversity v. Bernhardt, C.D. Cal., No. 20-cv-00371, 1/14/20.

(Adds BLM response to Jan. 14 story)

To contact the reporter on this story: Peter Hayes in Washington at PHayes@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Steven Patrick at spatrick@bloomberglaw.com

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