The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Brendan Cummings, (760) 366-2232 x 304

Lawsuit Launched to Protect Endangered Species From Fracking in California

Risky Drilling Technique Threatens Condor, Other Wildlife on Monterey Shale


The Center for Biological Diversity launched federal litigation today challenging the Bureau of Land Management for failing to properly evaluate hydraulic fracturing's threats to endangered species on public land leased for oil and gas activities in California. Fracking has already been documented in Kern, Monterey and seven other California counties that are home to more than 100 endangered and threatened species.

In a formal notice of intent to sue under the Endangered Species Act, the Center showed that the arrival of fracking in California threatens to unleash a new drilling boom that would severely damage much of the last remaining habitat for some of California's most endangered species, including California condors and San Joaquin kit foxes. Yet the BLM continues to issue oil and gas leases and drilling permits, all the while relying on outdated wildlife analyses that don't factor in the dangers of the new technology, which involves blasting millions of gallons of water, mixed with sand and dangerous chemicals, deep into the earth.

"A fracking boom could push some of California's most beloved endangered species over the edge," said Brendan Cummings, the Center's public lands director. "Yet the federal government is leasing out large tracts of our public lands for drilling with no real consideration of the risks fracking development poses to the California condor and other imperiled animals. That's bad for wildlife, and it's a tremendous breach of trust."

Recent advancements in fracking techniques are driving a growing interest in the Monterey Shale, a geological formation holding an estimated 14 billion barrels of oil -- 40 percent of U.S. shale-oil reserves.

Studies and reports from other states where fracking is already common suggest links between fracking and a wide range of threats to wildlife. Fracking fluid often contains dangerous chemicals, including some that are known to cause cancer and disrupt hormonal and reproductive development. Fracking wastewater is often stored aboveground, creating the risk of contact with wildlife and surface-water contamination. Fracking also requires enormous amounts of water, posing a threat to rivers vital to California steelhead trout and other fish species.

"Not only do dangerous chemicals used in fracking pose a direct threat to wildlife, but fracking is making important habitat areas, where it was previously not cost-effective to drill, a prime new target for oil companies," said Cummings. "Our government needs to protect endangered species habitat, not auction it off to be fracked by oil companies."

Today's 60-day notice of intent to sue is required before a lawsuit can be filed to compel the BLM to comply with the Endangered Species Act.

At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters and climate that species need to survive.

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