New oil drilling in Carrizo Plain blocked because of climate change — at least for now

Plans to drill a new oil well in the Carizzo Plain National Monument for the first time since the monument was established in 2001 have been halted — a victory for conservation groups that won an administrative appeal.

The state office of the Bureau of Land Management on Friday overturned a local Bakersfield Field Office decision to approve the well and small pipeline. Deputy state director of the Division of Energy and Minerals stayed the decision and remanded the environmental assessment.

The reason? State BLM says the regional office failed to fully consider effects on the climate and potential harm to California condors and other wildlife, issues raised on administrative appeal by the Center for Biological Diversity and Los Padres ForestWatch.

The proposed oil well was on a pad that had been slated for restoration at the base of the Caliente Mountains along the western boundary of the national monument. The project was proposed in 2012 by E&B Natural Resources Management Corp., an independent oil and gas company based in Bakersfield. Plans were approved in March.

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