Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, December 8, 2016

Contact: Kristen Monsell, (510) 844-7137,

Oil Company Applies for First New Offshore Fracking Permit in California

Federal Approval Would Allow Frack in Wildlife-rich Santa Barbara Channel,
Discharge of Fracking Waste Into Ocean

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.— Federal officials this week announced receipt of a new permit application to frack an oil well in federal waters off the coast of California. If approved it would be the first offshore frack near the California coast since the federal government lifted a moratorium on the controversial oil-extraction process earlier this year.

DCOR, LLC submitted the application to the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, the agency that permits offshore drilling in federal waters. The oil company wants to frack an offshore well in the wildlife-rich Santa Barbara Channel from Platform Gilda and would be allowed to discharge fracking flowback fluid into the ocean.

“It’s disgusting that people at California’s beaches have to worry again about fracking chemicals dumped in the ocean,” said Kristen Monsell, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Federal approval would signal a shocking disregard for offshore fracking’s threats to marine animals and human health. Green-lighting this plan could encourage a dangerous new wave of fracks off our coast.”

Offshore fracking was halted in federal waters off California in January after a Center lawsuit challenged the government’s rubber-stamping of fracking permits without any analysis of threats to wildlife and ocean ecosystems.

But federal officials lifted the moratorium in May after issuing a cursory environmental review that acknowledged fracking’s environmental risks yet green-lighted use of the technique. The Center and allies filed another lawsuit last month challenging the legally inadequate review in federal court. 

Oil companies have permission to dump up to 9 billion gallons of wastewater, including fracking chemicals, into federal waters off the California coast every year. The Environmental Protection Agency recently banned disposal of fracking wastewater at public sewage plants, but continues to allow such waste to be dumped into the ocean. Fracking waste commonly contains toxic chemicals and heavy metals.

At least 10 fracking chemicals routinely used in offshore fracking in California could kill or harm a broad variety of marine species, including sea otters and fish, Center scientists have found. The California Council on Science and Technology has identified some common fracking chemicals to be among the most toxic in the world to marine animals.

Fracking chemicals raise grave ecological concerns because the waters around California’s offshore oil platforms are important habitat for whales, seabirds, sea turtles and fish. The Santa Barbara Channel, for example, hosts the world’s densest summer seasonal congregation of endangered blue whales.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Go back