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Carrizo Plain National Monument approved for oil drilling by Federal Bureau of Land Management

Posted at 2:42 PM, May 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-29 00:33:12-04

The Federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on Wednesday approved new oil drilling in the Carrizo Plain National Monument in San Luis Obispo County.

The area, located in Santa Margarita, is known for its rare wildlife, important archaeological sites, Soda Lake, the San Andreas Fault, and during some springtime months, it blossoms in wildflowers, known best as the "superbloom."

San Luis Obispo Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham released the statement from the BLM in their decision to approve the drilling, mentioning his support in the State Assembly bill to protect national monuments and parks from oil drilling.

"San Luis Obispo County and California does not want or need to open up our most precious pieces of open space for additional oil drilling," Cunningham said in a statement. "I am disappointed in the federal government’s decision, and urge them to reconsider.”

In 2019, Cunningham supported AB 342, which would prohibit state agencies from permitting oil operations that take place on federally-protected lands. He has also supported other efforts to prohibit offshore oil drilling in federal waters as well as increased bond amount requirements for new oil wells.

Under President Trump, the BLM has approved reopening new wells that have been unused since the 1950s.

Approval for the well has been a back-and-forth battle for several years. The Los Padres ForestWatch and Center for Biological Diversity filed an objection saying the use of the well would put wildlife in danger and damage the climate.

The Carrizo Plain area was established as a national monument in 2001.