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Center for Biological Diversity:
Offshore Fracking 

Reuters, February 23, 2015

Green group challenges U.S. approval of fracking off Calif. coast
By Ayesha Rascoe

(Reuters) - An environmental group has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Interior Department accusing it of allowing hydraulic fracturing in oil and gas drilling off the California coast without proper review of safety hazards and impacts on marine life.

The Center for Biological Diversity filed a complaint on Thursday with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The group asked the court to bar the department from issuing permits for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, until it complies with various federal laws.

Fracking involves injecting large amounts of sand, chemicals and water underground at high pressure to extract oil and gas. Many environmentalists argue the practice threatens public health and should get more oversight or be banned outright.

Interior has a “pattern and practice of rubber-stamping permits to frack with no analysis of the environmental impacts,” the center said.

The group warned that leaks of chemicals involved in fracking could harm aquatic life and the disposal of fracking wastewater through injection wells could increase the risk of earthquakes.

Based on documents it obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, the group said Interior has approved nearly two dozen permits in California authorizing offshore fracking since the 1990s.

Until recently the public and state regulators were unaware that fracking was taking place off the California coast, the group said.

In its complaint, the group argued that the approvals violated the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act because fracking was not discussed in the development and production plans that govern drilling in the Pacific Ocean.

The group also said that the lack of any comprehensive analysis of the environmental effects of fracking was a violation of the National Environmental Policy Act.

Separate spokesmen for Interior’s bureaus that oversee offshore drilling said the agencies do not comment on pending litigation.

An Interior Department factsheet on offshore fracking said use of the drilling technique in the ocean is “significantly” different from onshore development, which typically involves a much larger volume of fluids.

The case is Center for Biological Diversity v. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management et al, U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, No. 15-1189.

For the plaintiff: Miyoko Sakashita and Brendan Cummings of the Center for Biological Diversity

© Thomson Reuters 2015.

This article originally appeared here.

Photo © Paul S. Hamilton