For Immediate Release, December 12, 2013

Contact: Patrick Sullivan, (415) 632-5316, psullivan@biologicaldiversity.org  

150 Environmental, Health Groups Urge California Coastal Commission to Halt Offshore Fracking

Surfboard-carrying Activists Protest Fracking Outside Commission Meeting

SAN FRANCISCO— As the California Coastal Commission meets today in San Francisco, surfboard-carrying activists with the Center for Biological Diversity and other groups will protest to urge commissioners to halt offshore fracking. The protest begins at noon outside the meeting, at Radisson Fisherman’s Wharf, 250 Beach St.

“Offshore fracking threatens to poison our coastal waters,” said Emily Jeffers, a staff attorney with the Center. “Oil companies are using toxic chemicals in biologically sensitive areas that provide habitat for blue whales and many other marine animals. The commission has to protect wildlife, the ocean, and all the surfers and beachgoers who could be harmed by offshore fracking.”

Activists will also deliver a letter from more than 150 health, environmental, labor and business organizations urging the Coastal Commission to halt offshore fracking. “Because fracking violates the central tenets of the Coastal Act, the Commission must assert its authority to regulate oil and gas development in the coastal zone and stop the risky practice,” says the letter, which is signed by the Center, Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, Breast Cancer Action, Environment California, the Surfrider Foundation, the Environmental Defense Center, the National Resources Defense Council, Earthworks, Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, among many others.

Oil companies have used fracking at least 200 times in waters off Long Beach, Seal Beach and Huntington Beach, as well as in federal waters in the Santa Barbara Channel. Fracking involves blasting massive amounts of water and industrial chemicals into the earth at pressures high enough to crack geologic formations and release oil and gas.

A recent Center analysis of 12 frack jobs in state waters found that at least one-third of chemicals used in these fracking operations are suspected ecological hazards. Drawing on data disclosed by oil companies, the Center also found that more than a third of these chemicals are suspected of affecting human developmental and nervous systems.

“I know the Coastal Commission understands how fragile our ocean health is, and I urge them to halt the polluting practice of offshore fracking," said Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz. “In 2010, a group of oceans scientists met at the State of the Oceans conference, compared notes, and found that our oceans are in shocking decline. In addition to being a vital part of California's economy and home to millions of sea creatures, our oceans provide up to seventy percent of the oxygen we breathe.”

Approximately half the oil platforms in federal waters in the Santa Barbara Channel discharge all or a portion of their wastewater directly to the ocean, according to a Coastal Commission document. This produced wastewater contains all of the chemicals injected originally into the fracked wells, with the addition of toxins gathered from the subsurface environment.

“The Coastal Commission has the power and the responsibility to step in when oil companies use dangerous chemicals to frack California's ocean waters,” Jeffers said. “Fracking is an inherently dangerous activity that has no place in the offshore environment. We urge commissioners to take immediate action to halt fracking.”

A copy of the letter signed by more than 150 groups is available here.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 625,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.


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