How will Trump’s presidency affect federal land in the Central Coast?

Donald Trump’s transition plan calls for opening federal lands to energy exploration. It’s part of a drive to make the country energy independent. So, how could that affect on and offshore federal land here in Santa Barbara and Ventura County?

KCRW asked two local environmental experts.

Los Padres National Forest

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Drilling in the Los Padres National Forest near Santa Paula (Los Padres ForestWatch)

Jeff Kuyper, executive director of Los Padres ForestWatch:

“The Los Padres National Forest covers over half of Santa Barbara County. It’s the only national forest in California that’s currently being drilled or fracked. With any change in administration, there’s an eye toward looking at who the president will be appointing to head the various agencies that oversee public land management, like the U.S. Forest Service, the Department of Interior, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

“It will depend on how much pressure Washington D.C. puts on our local forest officials to push through new drilling and fracking proposals. With Trump’s emphasis on opening up vast tracks of public land for oil and other energy development, there’s certainly a strong concern among conservation organizations. We’re hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. These battles will have a direct impact on how the Los Padres National Forest is managed and protected for years to come.”

Santa Barbara Channel

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An oil rig in federal waters within the Santa Barbara Channel (Felix’s Endless Journey)

Linda Krop, chief counsel at the Environmental Defense Center:

“We have about 20 platforms in the Santa Barbara Channel region. A lot of people think those platforms will eventually go away, but in fact there’s a lot more oil in this area yet to be developed.

“Every five years, the federal government is required to come up with a leasing plan for the whole country. For the last several periods, California and the Pacific region have been excluded [from new leases], but that could all change now.

“There are some checks and balances. The president-elect would have to propose a new plan, which would have to go through an environmental review, a public comment period and the Coastal Commission would play a role.

“The state could definitely fight it, but technically the federal government could issue more leases over the state’s objections. That would mean more lawsuits, which is how we’ve been able to protect our coast so far – by fighting leases and projects, one lawsuit at a time.”