Feds freeze offshore CA fracking

Feds freeze offshore CA fracking

Offshore frackingTwin legal settlements with environmentalist plaintiffs put a freeze on fracking in California waters. “The agreements in Los Angeles federal court apply to operations off Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, where companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp. operate platforms,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

“Federal agencies will have to complete the review by the end of May and determine if a more in-depth analysis is necessary,” the paper added. “They will also have to make future permit applications publicly accessible.” If the practice clears federal scrutiny and is deemed adequately safe to the environment, fracking operations could continue. If not, they could be postponed or forestalled indefinitely.

Notching a victory

The result marked a significant win for the Center for Biological Diversity and the Environmental Defense Center, two organizations that alleged frackers had imperiled aquatic life with “over 9 billion gallons of wastewater” each year, according to Grist. Accusing the U.S. Department of the Interior of “rubber-stamping fracking off California’s coast without engaging the public or analyzing fracking’s threats to ocean ecosystems, coastal communities and marine life,” as the Christian Science Monitor observed, the groups filed suit against the federal government.

In a report on the deal, the left-leaning think tank Think Progress noted that fracking had quietly been conducted off the California coast for years. “The initial revelation of ongoing offshore fracking came as a result of Freedom of Information Act requests filed with the Department of the Interior by the Associated Press and Santa Barbara-based community organization the Environmental Defense Center, which just released a new report on the issue,” the organization recalled. “The investigations have found over 200 instances of fracking operations in state and federal waters off California, all unbeknownst to a state agency with jurisdiction over the offshore oil and gas industry.”

Industry pushback

For their part, defendants insisted the case was without merit. “Catherine Reheis-Boyd, president of the Western States Petroleum Association, said that the petroleum industry has operated safely in California for decades, working closely with regulators and other officials,” Natural Gas Intelligence reported. Industry defenders have argued that offshore fracking levels in the Pacific haven’t been that high. While the moratorium “will not likely affect production at large because California has not been producing much offshore oil lately,” Reuters noted, “companies have fracked at least 200 wells in Long Beach, Seal Beach, Huntington Beach and in the wildlife-rich Santa Barbara Channel,” according to the Center for Biological Diversity.

The American Petroleum Institute, which joined the suit as a defendant, has refused to agree to the settlement package. Other hurdles to its implementation have arisen. The two separate settlements must still be approved by a federal judge, according to NGI.

Porter Ranch debate

Although the EPA largely exonerated fracking of the dire accusations leveled against it by some environmental activists, the practice has re-entered the public debate in California due to the massive gas leak in the Porter Ranch neighborhood of greater Los Angeles. Maya Golden-Krasner, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, recently linked the disaster to fracking in an editorial at the Sacramento Bee; “newly uncovered documents show that hydraulic fracturing was commonly used in the Aliso Canyon gas storage wells,” she wrote, “including a well less than a half-mile from the leak.” Perhaps predictably, Golden-Krasner called for Gov. Jerry Brown to ban the practice of fracking across the state of California.

Regulators have been investigating a possible connection. “More than two months after Southern California Gas Co. detected a leak at its Aliso Canyon field, observers are searching for reasons the well may have failed. Some environmentalists are drawing attention to fracking, while experts caution that such a rupture is unlikely,” the Los Angeles Daily News observed. “The leaking well’s maintenance records don’t indicate that it was fracked, according to a review of the file released by the state Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources.”

9 comments

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  1. Ronald
    Ronald 4 February, 2016, 07:16

    California is in a precarious position, being an energy island with the Sierra Mountains on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other side. The 40,000,000 million gallons of transportation fuel being consumed every day by the present 32 million vehicles are only manufactured here in California by the few refineries that are left, as virtually no other state or country can provide our boutique fuels in a timely manner to California.

    With crude oil imports from Alaska on the decline, and both in-state and offshore exploration of crude oil hampered by regulations and also on the decline, California imports more than 50% of its crude oil needs from foreign countries.

    Most of the USA is decreasing imports of crude oil from foreign countries as they take advantage of domestic oil production. In fact, in 2016, Congressional Leaders Agreed to Lift the 40-Year Ban on Oil Exports so the USA is now an exporter of crude oil.

    HOWEVER California is increasing their imports of crude as the California “energy island” has no access to the growth in domestic oil production, other than crude by rail.

    There are more cost effective sources of crude oil from the Midwest and Canada, but because we are an energy island, we have no access to them other than bring the crude in by rail. Crude by rail projects have been stalled by regulations and long approval cycles. Nothing seems to prevent California’s future crude oil needs to be more than 50% dependent on imports from foreign countries.

    Reply this comment
    • Dork
      Dork 4 February, 2016, 18:55

      I have long advocated that Exxon/Mobil, Chevron,Phillps76 should just CLOSE THEIR PLANTS AND LEAVE THE STATE ENTIRELY. and REFUSE to business with the ENTIRE STATE. Let the Government Employees stew in their own cesspool they created.

      And when they cry foul, tell them to gosee GREENPEACE and the SIERRA CLUB for their Gasoline!

      Reply this comment
  2. Tork Mathiason
    Tork Mathiason 4 February, 2016, 08:06

    With the Sierra Madres on one side and the Trench of Santa Barbara to seaward, California is poised to burst forth with thermal units from deep below the crust of Giaia. God’s will spew heat for our homes as we refuse to eat the flesh of sentient beings and worship the Reagan-Jesus each in our own way. This will make America great again.

    Reply this comment
  3. Queeg
    Queeg 4 February, 2016, 09:41

    Comrades

    You get what you didn’t wish for……only thing not regulated is safe disposal of toe nail clippings!

    Reply this comment
  4. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 4 February, 2016, 09:44

    The demac-RATS are in the pockets of the Green nazis they do their bidding without a blink

    Reply this comment
  5. Ted. Mentor to the doomed....
    Ted. Mentor to the doomed.... 6 February, 2016, 19:42

    H folks, my name is Ted, and I am a trough feeding troll.

    Reply this comment
  6. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 8 February, 2016, 05:47

    Ted is Brain-dead and a liberal pin-head

    Reply this comment

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