California has an estimated 15.4 billion barrels of crude oil beneath its fertile farmland. Companies are scrambling to get their hands on it.
Why is this just happening now?
Well, the 'Monterey Shale' has long been believed to be under 1750 square miles of central and southern California. Technology is now finally able to extract it. This could potentially spark a huge oil boom.
Oil companies are thrilled about the prospects. But those with environmental interests are concerned.
Some worry the lush land will be taken over by looming drills and oil sites. If this happens, it will push out vineyards. It could even endanger rare species and flatten the rolling hills.
Despite the concerns, companies are staking their claim on the land. Supposedly, they are quietly buying up mineral rights and carrying out tests across the state.
If these companies are able to extract the oil, California will move from the third biggest producer of oil to the first. The Monterey Shale has four times as much oil as Texas.
Up until now, companies haven't been able to reach the oil. The reason is that tectonic activity folded the rock and pushed oil into layered pockets. It's said it's too expensive to reach the oil here.
Mineral rights to public lands are being sold by the Bureau of Land Management and plots have soared from $2 an acre to more than a thousand dollars each.
Successful bidders have 10 years to develop a working oil well on the land or the lease expires. The government then receives 12.5 percent of revenues from the oil.