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Congressman Jimmy Panetta on June 7 called on the federal Bureau of Land Management to halt any plans to move forward with the proposal to open hundreds of thousands of acres of public lands and mineral estate in San Benito County and other areas along the central coast of California to new oil and gas drilling.

Panetta, whose 20th District includes part of Gilroy and all of San Benito County, wrote to BLM Acting State Director Joe Stout and Central Coast Field Office (CCFO) Field Manager Ben Blom, citing concerns about the proposal’s impact on wildlife habitats and air and water quality.

The Democratic congressman also stressed that the proposal stands in direct opposition to California’s efforts to develop a clean energy economy.   “I request that you do not proceed with the CCFO proposal to open new lands for oil and gas leasing and development, ensuring the central coast of California can continue aggressively pursuing policies that protect the state’s critical natural resources and support a sustainable future,” he wrote.

On May 9, the BLM released a Proposed Resource Management Plan Amendment and Final Environmental Impact Statement, which would open more than 700,000 acres of public land across eleven counties in California, including Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Cruz counties, to oil and gas lease sales.

If this plan were to go forward, it would end a five-year moratorium on oil and gas leasing of federal land and mineral estate in California, which has been in effect since 2013.   The deadline to file a protest on the proposal is end of day Sunday, June 9.  More information on the proposal can be found at

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