Assemblyman Robert Rivas today called on Gov. Gavin Newsom to protest the Trump Administration’s plans to allow oil drilling on over 700,000 acres of the Central Coast, including San Benito County where voters in 2014 approved a fracking ban.
The federal Bureau of Land Management last week announced those plans to allow oil and gas exploration leases on the vast stretch of public land, largely open spaces and near sensitive environmental areas such as Pinnacles National Park.
Rivas held a press conference Monday morning at his Salinas district office and condemned the president for the plan. Rivas’ office noted how the plans would open up areas largely in San Benito and Monterey counties for oil and gas drilling, including fracking.
San Benito County voters in 2014 overwhelmingly approved a ban against fracking and other high-intensity petroleum operations, with Rivas as one of the primary proponents behind the measure.
The following is Rivas’ press release following the announcement:
Today, Assemblyman Robert Rivas denounced the Trump administration decision to open up over 725,000 acres of local land to oil drilling. Rivas went on to ask Gov. Gavin Newsom to contest the unprecedented increase of oil exploration on public land. Rivas has officially requested that the Governor file a protest, since Trump’s plans are inconsistent with state and local laws.
“This is not a Republican or Democratic issue. Fighting this destructive plan is the right thing to do to protect our health and our future,” said Rivas. “This move by the President was void of research or community input. That’s why I’m calling on the Governor to use his power to review the proposal and highlight how this plan takes us backwards and how it is out of touch with the will of the people. It is entirely inconsistent with state and local law.”
This past Thursday, the Trump administration’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) finalized a plan to open up over 725,000 acres of public lands and mineral estate across California’s Central Coast and the Bay Area to new oil and gas drilling. This includes land primarily in the counties of Monterey and San Benito, including areas surrounding Pinnacles National Park. BLM regulations provide a 60-day window for Governor Newsom to review the plan for any inconsistencies with state and local plans and policies and to provide recommendations.
“The Trump Administration’s call to drill in vast areas of our community is a direct assault on our vital agricultural economy. The unlawful action will also destroy local tourism – which could imperil thousands of our local small business owners.
“This attack on our communities is a distraction from the pressing issues we are all working to solve, like our farmworker housing shortage, the growing homelessness crisis, and the urgent need to improve our public education system. I condemn Donald Trump for taking yet another divisive action at a time when we need to be coming together. I urge the Governor to take swift action to protect our communities.
“I want our area to continue to be known as the Salad Bowl Capital of the World – not the oil drilling capital. Together our farmers and our farmworkers feed the entire nation.
“We are home to Pinnacles National Park, to Big Sur, and Monterey. We have so much to be proud of here in the Monterey Bay region. I want us to be known for protecting our environment for future generations. I urge all residents to join me to stand up for what is right.”
Rivas’ district staff can be contacted for questions or assistance at (831) 759-8676.
Below is video from the press conference: