U.S. Government Sued over Proposed Carrizo Plain Oil Drilling & Pipeline

Earlier this year, in May 2020, the Bakersfield Bureau of Land Management office approved a plan by E&B Natural Resources Management Corporation to drill, operate a new well and construct a pipeline in the Carrizo Plain National Monument. 

This month, on December 15, 2020, two conservation groups, the Center for Biological Diversity and Los Padres ForestWatch, filed a federal lawsuit to stop the newly permitted well and pipeline.

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, the BLM had originally approved the well and pipeline in 2018 but withdrew approval last year after Los Padres ForestWatch and the Center for Biological Diversity filed objections.

However, in May this year the BLM reversed course and re-approved the project. As the CBD has stated, “the proposed fossil fuel extraction would harm threatened and endangered wildlife, mar scenic views and violate several laws, including the Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act, as well as the monument’s resource-management plan.”

The proposed well site is located at the base of the Caliente Mountains, inside the western boundary of Carrizo Plain National Monument. The area is home to several protected species, including threatened San Joaquin antelope squirrels, endangered San Joaquin kit foxes and an endangered flowering plant called the Kern mallow.

“Today’s lawsuit asks the Bureau to do what its own management plan requires it to do: Phase out oil drilling in the Carrizo Plain National Monument and clean up the mess that has been left behind,” said ForestWatch executive director Jeff Kuyper. “More wells and pipelines will send this precious landscape — and our planet — in the wrong direction.”

For a deeper appreciation of the Carrizo Plain’s beauty and ecosystem, you can seek out local author and photographer Chuck Graham’s newly published book, “Carrizo Plain Where the Mountains Meet the Grasslands”.  The Santa Barbara Independent reviews his book here.

For further details on the Carrizo Plain lawsuit and history, see San Luis Obispo Tribune article.