STATEMENT: Gavin Newsom on new Trump Administration lawsuit to overturn Public Lands law in California

04-02-18

SACRAMENTO - California Lt. Governor and State Lands Commissioner Gavin Newsom issued the following statement in response to a lawsuit filed today by the U.S. Department of Justice against California law (SB-50, Allen) that prohibits the transfer of federal public lands in California to private parties, by giving the California State Lands Commission a first right of refusal over proposed federal land transfers:

"Yet again, Donald Trump and his administration are attacking our state and our very way of life. Safeguarding public lands is in our DNA as Californians - so much so that we have enshrined the principle in our state constitution. We will use every legal and administrative tool to thwart Trump's plans to auction off California's heritage to the highest bidder."

BACKGROUND:
California Senate Bill 50 of 2017 (Allen) established state law that discourages the transfer of federal public lands in California to private third parties by giving the California State Lands Commission a first right of refusal over proposed federal land transfers.

The law is designed to protect federal lands in California from being opened to oil and gas drilling, and other corporate interests in a manner inconsistent with high public support in California for preservation and protection of the state's natural heritage.

California is home to over 45 million acres of federal lands, offering recreational and economic opportunities. Existing law vests authority over many public lands owned by the state to the California State Lands Commission, a three-member Commission represented by Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, State Controller Betty Yee, and the Governor's Director of Finance Michael Cohen.

Recently, the State Lands Commission directed staff to take necessary action to ensure there is no new federal offshore leasing, in anticipation of the possibility of federal government re-opening the Pacific coast to new oil drilling. The Commission's specific actions in this area include:

Feb 2018: Ahead of the Trump Administration's only public hearing in California to discuss the revised federal offshore drilling plan on February 8, California's State Lands Commission sent a letter to the federal government condemning both the plan and the public participation process, while stating unequivocally that California will not approve new pipeline or allow use of existing pipelines to transport oil from new leases ashore.

April 2017: In anticipation of President Trump's decision in April 2017 to expand offshore oil and gas production, the State Lands Commission directed staff to take appropriate actions to ensure that any oil and gas product from new drilling never makes landfall in California.

Dec 2016: Adopting a resolution in support of the Obama Administration's ban on expanded offshore drilling off the Pacific coast and directing staff to take appropriate actions on behalf of the Commission to ensure the ban remains in place.

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