Protest Filed Opposing BLM Lease Sale in South County
July 18, 2011
The Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club and Los Padres ForestWatch filed a formal protest Monday to stop the Bureau of Land Management from leasing out 2,600 acres, mostly in South Monterey County, for oil and gas development.
Based on geologic analysis conducted by BLM geologists, natural gas would likely be accessible from the Monterey Shale formation only through the controversial technique hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which injects a blend of steam, sand and chemicals into rock formations to extract gas.
“By turning a blind eye to the dangers of fracking, BLM is putting Monterey’s water quality in serious jeopardy,” said Matt Vespa, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, in a written statement. “These sensitive areas ought to be protected, not turned into industrial zones.”
BLM has completed an environmental assessment for the sale itself, but has not done analysis for specific drilling operations, which require that the lessee file separate permits. “Thorough environmental review must be completed before any drilling takes place,” said Rita Dalessio of Sierra Club’s Ventana Chapter conservation committee.
Currently, there are two existing leases in the county, with oil companies Venoco and Neon. Neither operator has applied for a permit to drill.
BLM plans to put the land out for bid in September, at which oil companies have the chance to win rights to the federally held mineral rights. BLM would collect a 12-percent royalty on any oil or gas extracted on the property.