Last week the Environmental Defense Center issued a new report on the practice of hydraulic fracturing - also known as fracking - in the ocean off the coast of California. The EDC charges that the federal government has for the past 20 years "been asleep at the switch while fracking and other forms of well stimulation have been conducted from platforms in the fragile waters off the south central coast." The report also addresses other well stimulation practices used offshore.
The report comes on the heals of Gov. Brown signing SB 4, the first regulation in California to specifically address various well stimulation practices including fracking and acidization. The EDC notes however, that SB 4 applies to onshore land and offshore waters within the State of California's jurisdiction, the new law does not apply to federal waters - which is the focus of the new report.
Click the image above to view the report.
Portions of the report appear below:
"Although fracking has been conducted off of California’s shores for at least two decades, the practice was until recently largely unknown to state and federal regulators, as well as the general public."
"EDC’s review and analysis of federal records received through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) show that at least 15 fracs have occurred offshore California, with several more proposals pending. More fracs have almost certainly been conducted, however, as federal regulators were until recently unaware that the practice was being used. The information currently available shows that the majority of fracs have occurred from platforms with a history of spills that are in close proximity to the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and other ecologically important areas."
" The nation’s first offshore wells were drilled along this coast, and it was here that the nation’s first large offshore oil disaster occurred. The 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill, which still looms large in the public’s consciousness, is widely credited with catalyzing enactment of landmark state and federal environmental legislation. The spill, however, failed to substantially slow federal leasing and permitting decisions that opened up California’s waters to extensive offshore oil development. Between 1967 and 1984, the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) sold 311 leases covering more than 1.6 million acres off the California coast.41 Today, 23 offshore platforms still operate in the Santa Barbara Channel, all but one of which is located in federal, rather than state waters.42
In light of its findings the EDC makes several recommendations to the Obama Administration:
"In order to guard against an offshore drilling disaster involving fracking off California’s shores, EDC recommends that the Obama administration: