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article imageCalifornia Attorney General sues Feds over offshore fracking

By Karen Graham     Dec 20, 2016 in Environment
Los Angeles - State Attorney General Kamala Harris and the California Coastal Commission on Monday filed a lawsuit challenging the federal government's recent findings that fracking off the California coast has no significant environmental effect.
The lawsuit filed in Federal Court in Los Angeles claims the Department of the Interior failed in not taking a hard enough look at the full range of environmental impacts from oil and gas extraction techniques, including acid and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, used by 22 offshore oil platforms along the California coast.
The lawsuit claims that the Interior Department's failure is a violation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969. The NEPA was one of the first laws ever written in the U.S. that established a broad framework for protecting our environment.
The lawsuit comes in the wake of Ventura, Calif.-based oil company DCOR, LLC's proposal to begin fracking an offshore well in the Santa Barbara Channel. If the proposal is allowed to go through, the company would discharge chemical-laden fracking flowback fluid into the ocean.
EcoWatch quoted Kristen Monsell, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity: "Kudos to Kamala Harris for fighting to protect our ocean from fracking chemicals. Offshore fracking raises deep concerns among the millions of people who live, work and play on California's beautiful coast. Whether it's done on land or off our shores, fracking is a toxic threat to our state's air, water and wildlife."
Kamala Harris, winding up her last few weeks as the state's Attorney General before heading back to Congress, said, "We must take every possible step to protect our precious coastline and ocean," reports the Kansas City Star. Department of Interior spokeswoman Leah Duran, responding to a request for a reaction to the lawsuit, said in an email the agency "cannot comment on pending litigation."
Hydraulic fracturing has been used for years in federal waters off the coast of California, according to the Kansas City Star. But in January 2016, a lawsuit filed by the Center For Biological Diversity that challenged the federal government’s rubber-stamping of fracking permits without adequate environmental assessments halted all fracking off the coast of California.
It didn't take but a few months before federal agencies completed a review of environmental impacts of the fracking practices, concluding there was no significant environmental impact. So on May 27, 2016, the short-lived moratorium on fracking was lifted. Monday's lawsuit is challenging that May statement by the federal government.
Coastal Commission Acting Executive Director Jack Ainsworth cited the economic disadvantages posed by fracking off California's coast, saying, "Our coastal economies contribute $40 billion annually to the state's economy. We can't afford to risk that for short-term profits."
More about California, dept of the Interior, offshore fracking, Lawsuit, Trump administration
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