Federal government suspends new drilling and fracking leases on public lands in Central California

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California Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta announced Monday that the state has reached a settlement with the federal government to halt new oil and gas leases on public lands in Central California until the potential risks to public health and the environment are adequately assessed.

The moratorium comes after several years of legal challenges from environmental organizations and the state of California, which accused the U.S. Bureau of Land Management under Donald Trump of opening up more than 1 million acres of federal land in Central California to drilling and hydraulic fracturing without thoroughly examining the potential effects on air quality and groundwater.

Hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as fracking, is a common practice used to extract more oil and natural gas by injecting highly pressurized water, sand and a medley of toxic chemicals into underground rock formations. Fracking chemicals have the potential to sully nearby aquifers and release harmful air pollution linked to increased risk of asthma, heart disease and certain cancers.

Research also suggests fracking can induce smaller tremors.

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