Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, December 18, 2015

Contact: Patrick Sullivan, (415) 517-9364,

Long Beach Runs Out of Time on Offshore Fracking Permits

13 Planned Fracks Would Have Been First in State Waters Since 2013 

LONG BEACH, Calif.— The city of Long Beach has run out of time to use 13 permits issued by state oil officials for offshore fracking in California waters, the Center for Biological Diversity told city officials this week. In a letter to the director of the Long Beach Gas and Oil Department, the Center points out that the last offshore fracking permit expires in less than two weeks.

Offshore fracking in state waters requires a coastal development permit, the letter notes, because it is a dangerous activity that involves the disposal of liquid waste and extraction of oil. “There is not sufficient time remaining before December 30, 2015 — the last date Long Beach has authorization to frack offshore wells — to complete this important, legally required process. Therefore, the city cannot lawfully act on the permits from state oil officials, and cannot frack any of its offshore wells,” the letter states.

“It’s a huge relief that these offshore fracking permits won’t be used and a major victory for California’s coastal environment,” said Kristen Monsell, a Center attorney. “This toxic technique has no place in our ocean. Every offshore frack puts coastal communities and sea otters and other marine wildlife at risk from dangerous chemicals or another devastating oil spill.”

California’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources issued the 13 offshore fracking permits in June, just weeks after the devastating Refugio oil spill near Santa Barbara. Long Beach had planned to use two chemicals identified by the California Council on Science and Technology as among the most toxic substances on earth to aquatic life.

These offshore fracks, which were scheduled to begin in August and continue through December from the city-owned THUMS artificial oil islands, would have been the first in state waters since 2013. But the Coastal Commission warned Long Beach officials that the city would also need a permit under the Coastal Act to frack offshore, and the Center threatened to sue the city if it failed to comply with the Coastal Act.

The city hasn’t received such a permit, and the commission did not consider the issue at its December meeting. This means there is no time left for the city to obtain a coastal development permit before its authorization from state oil regulators lapses at the end of December.

Offshore fracking blasts vast volumes of water mixed with toxic chemicals beneath the sea floor at pressures high enough to fracture rocks. The technique was last used in state waters in December 2013, when oil companies fracked four offshore wells near Long Beach. Before that oil companies fracked at least 200 wells in waters off Long Beach, Seal Beach and Huntington Beach, as well as in the wildlife-rich Santa Barbara Channel.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 900,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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