For Immediate Release, July 18, 2011
||Matt Vespa, Center for Biological Diversity, (425) 632-5309 or (415) 310-1549 (cell)
Jason Pitt, Sierra Club, (202) 675-6272
Protest Filed to Save California Watersheds From Dangerous Fracking
Drilling Poised to Move Forward Without Thorough Environmental Review
SACRAMENTO, Calif.— The Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club and Los Padres ForestWatch filed a formal protest today to stop the Bureau of Land Management from leasing out 2,600 acres of environmentally sensitive land in Monterey and Fresno counties for oil and gas development. The leasing of this federal mining-estate land comes without a thorough examination of the effects drilling will have on California’s landscapes, wildlife and watersheds.
“By turning a blind eye to the dangers of fracking, BLM is putting Monterey’s water quality in serious jeopardy,” said Matt Vespa, an attorney at the Center. “These sensitive areas ought to be protected, not turned into industrial zones.”
“Thorough environmental review must be completed before any drilling takes place,” said Rita Dalessio of Sierra Club’s Ventana Chapter conservation committee. “We need to protect our water, air and communities from this potentially harmful drilling. Natural gas drilling should not come with the sacrifice of our beautiful California landscapes and certainly not our health."
Future gas drilling would likely involve high-pressure hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” a highly controversial and dangerous drilling method linked to water contamination in other parts of the country. Recent reports show fracking has resulted in more than 1,000 documented cases of groundwater contamination, either through the leaking of fracking fluids and methane into groundwater or via aboveground spills of contaminated wastewater.
Oil and gas development also results in the release of significant amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Although there are many cost-effective means to control methane leakage, the Bureau of Land Management refused to consider any of these measures to reduce greenhouse gas pollution resulting from the proposed lease sale.
Despite these risks, areas proposed for leasing include designated watershed areas in Monterey and habitat for endangered and threatened species such as the San Joaquin kit fox and blunt-nosed leopard lizard.
The protest letter is available here.