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Feds Auction Prime Central Valley Land For Oil Development

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San Ardo oil fields in Monterey County. (CBS)

San Ardo oil fields in Monterey County. (CBS)

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/AP) — The Bureau of Land Management is auctioning off nearly 18,000 acres of oil leases on prime public lands in Central California, home to one of the largest deposits of shale oil in the country.

Agency spokesman David Christy says eight different groups—including oil companies—bid for the 15 parcels of land up for auction Wednesday in rural stretches of Monterey, San Benito and Fresno counties. The agency plans to announce the winners within 24 hours

Numerous environmental groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity, protested outside the auction in Sacramento. The land up for grabs is also home to prized vineyards and several endangered species.

Democratic Rep. Sam Farr had asked the agency to put the auction on hold over concerns that the bureau wasn’t doing enough to monitor the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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