The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Patrick Sullivan, (415) 517-9364, 

30 Scientists, 100+ Environmental, Health Groups Urge Federal Government to Maintain Moratorium on Offshore Fracking in California


In a letter sent today, more than 30 prominent scientists urged the federal government to continue the moratorium on fracking in federal waters off the California coast and to prepare a comprehensive environmental impact statement for the controversial oil-industry technique.

Offshore oil rigs
(c)2015 Drew Bird Photography. This photo of oil rigs off the California coast is available for media use.

Today's letter, signed by esteemed ocean and climate scientists including Drs. Sylvia Earle, Carl Safina, Michael Mann and risk assessment engineer Dr. Robert Bea, counsels the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement to consider the documented risks of hydraulic fracturing and significant data gaps on offshore well stimulation.

"We strongly advise you to continue the current moratorium on offshore well stimulation in California until a comprehensive review and scientific studies demonstrate that fracking and acidizing do not threaten wildlife, the marine environment, coastal communities, and the climate," the letter states.

In another letter sent today to the Department of the Interior, more than 100 health, environmental, labor and business organizations urged the federal government to ban offshore fracking.

"Given the known environmental and health hazards of fracking, as well as the information gaps of offshore fracking, we ask you to prohibit oil companies from fracking and acidizing wells off the California coast," states the letter, which is signed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, Environment America, the Surfrider Foundation and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, among many others.

The federal government in February released a draft proposal to lift the offshore fracking moratorium, which had been put in place under a legal settlement with the Center for Biological Diversity and Environmental Defense Center. Interior's preliminary environmental assessment proposes allowing oil companies to frack and discharge their wastewater -- including toxic fracking chemicals -- into the ocean.

Today's letters come just before the March 23 end of the public-comment period on the proposal to resume offshore fracking. After the close of comments the government could resume permitting offshore fracking for oil and gas off the California coast at any time.

Oil companies have fracked at least 200 wells in state and federal waters off Long Beach, Seal Beach, Huntington Beach and in the wildlife-rich Santa Barbara Channel. Offshore fracking blasts vast volumes of water mixed with toxic chemicals beneath the seafloor, at pressures high enough to fracture rocks.

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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