California farmers, fearing potential environmental damage to their farms, are taking on major oil companies and a pro-business administration in Sacramento.
The fight in California underscores a much larger tension between mineral developers and farmers taking place across the nation. With fuel prices shooting up and with technology allowing oil producers to extract otherwise inaccessible petroleum products (through a process known as hydraulic fracturing), energy companies have sought to expand their operations as rapidly as possible.
To many farmers, this energy boom provided a welcome source of money. Farmer could sell the mineral rights to their land, allowing energy companies to extract oil and fossil fuels, while still allowing farmers to retain overall ownership of the land.
To many California farmers, however, Governor Jerry Brown’s enthusiasm for oil drilling may pose a major threat to their operations. California law requires an environmental review before oil drilling can occur, in order to guarantee that resource extraction will not damage the environment. Brown’s administration, however, has been more than willing to offer major oil companies waivers to this law, allowing them to drill with only a token environmental investigation.
To farmers, this cavalier resource extraction could permanently damage their farms and the livelihoods. Farmers and environmental groups are united to file lawsuits blocking major oil companies from drilling without extensive reviews.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer