LOS ANGELES -- The federal government has opened 725,000 acres (294,000 hectares) in Central California to oil and gas drilling on land that has been off-limits since 2013.
The Bureau of Land Management issued its final decision Friday to allow oil and gas leases on plots that are mostly in the Central Valley, but also include parts of the Central Coast.
The plan announced in May is part of a Trump administration goal to make the U.S. energy independent that has been criticized as a giveaway to industry.
Environmentalists who successfully blocked the Obama administration from opening the land to drilling criticized the new development.
The Center for Biological Diversity called the effort reckless and says it will continue to fight the government.
The BLM says additional approval will be required for before any drilling.
US government opens Central California land to oil, gas drilling