Quantcast

Big Victory in Fight to Protect California’s Coast From Offshore Fracking

Popular

Santa Barbara's Platform Holly. Glenn Beltz / Flickr Creative Commons

A federal court on Friday rejected the Trump administration's effort to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the approval of fracking in federal waters off California.

The suit—filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and Wishtoyo Foundation—notes that the government violated the National Environmental Policy Act and Endangered Species Act by failing to carefully study offshore fracking's risks before allowing this dangerous oil-extraction practice. The suit points to offshore fracking pollution's threats to the marine environment, public health, imperiled wildlife and sacred Chumash cultural resources and places.


"This is a big victory in the fight to protect California's coast from offshore fracking's toxic chemicals," said Kristen Monsell, a Center for Biological Diversity attorney. "We're glad the court rejected the Trump administration's baseless attempt to dismiss efforts to force a hard look at offshore fracking's risks. The law clearly requires the feds to carefully study and reduce threats from offshore fracking, not blow them off so oil companies can keep using this hazardous process in fragile coastal environments."

The Trump administration argued that the approval of offshore fracking and acidizing at all active oil and gas leases in the Pacific Ocean was not a final agency action reviewable by the court. In rejecting these arguments, the court noted that federal defendants' challenged decision allowed the use of offshore fracking and acidizing "without restriction" at all active leases in the Pacific Ocean.

Oil platforms in the Santa Barbara Channel have federal permission to annually dump up to nine billion gallons of produced water—including fracking chemicals—into the ocean. At least 10 fracking chemicals used in offshore fracking in California could kill or harm a broad variety of marine species, including sea otters and fish, Center for Biological Diversity scientists have found. The California Council on Science and Technology has identified some common fracking chemicals to be among the most toxic in the world to marine animals.

The court also rejected the Trump administration's attempt to dismiss a similar lawsuit filed by the state of California. The state's case also argues that the approval of offshore fracking without carefully studying the risks violates the National Environmental Policy Act, and that federal officials violated the Coastal Zone Management Act by failing to determine if offshore fracking is consistent with California's coastal management program before allowing the practice.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) speaks during the North American Building Trades Unions Conference at the Washington Hilton April 10, 2019 in Washington, DC. Zach Gibson / Getty Images

Colorado senator and 2020 hopeful Michael Bennet introduced his plan to combat climate change Monday, in the first major policy rollout of his campaign. Bennet's plan calls for the establishment of a "Climate Bank," using $1 trillion in federal spending to "catalyze" $10 trillion in private spending for the U.S. to transition entirely to net-zero emissions by 2050.

Read More Show Less
Foto-Rabe / Pixabay

When Trump's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its replacement for the Obama-era Clean Power Plan in August 2018, its own estimates said the reduced regulations could lead to 1,400 early deaths a year from air pollution by 2030.

Now, the EPA wants to change the way it calculates the risks posed by particulate matter pollution, using a model that would lower the death toll from the new plan, The New York Times reported Monday. Five current or former EPA officials familiar with the plan told The Times that the new method would assume there is no significant health gain by lowering air pollution levels below the legal limit. However, many public health experts say that there is no safe level of particulate matter exposure, which has long been linked to heart and lung disease.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A crate carrying one of the 33 lions rescued from circuses in Peru and Columbia is lifted onto the back of a lorry before being transported to a private reserve on April 30, 2016 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

By Andrea Germanos

Animal welfare advocates are praising soon-to-be introduced legislation in the U.S. that would ban the use of wild animals in traveling circuses.

Read More Show Less
A tornado Monday in Union City, Oklahoma. TicToc by Bloomberg / YouTube screenshot

Extreme weather spawned 18 tornadoes across five states Monday, USA Today reported. Tornadoes were reported in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Arizona, but were not as dangerous as forecasters had initially feared, the Associated Press reported.

Read More Show Less
A woman walks in front of her water-logged home in Sriwulan village, Sayung sub-district of Demak regency, Central Java, Indonesia on Feb. 2, 2018. Siswono Toyudho / Anadolu Agency /Getty Images

A new study has more than doubled the worst-case-scenario projection for sea level rise by the end of the century, BBC News reported Monday.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Matt Cardy / Stringer / Getty Images

The Guardian is changing the way it writes about environmental issues.

Read More Show Less
Blueberry yogurt bark. SEE D JAN / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Lizzie Streit, MS, RDN, LD

Having nutritious snacks to eat during the workday can help you stay energized and productive.

Read More Show Less
A 2017 flood in Elk Grove, California. Florence Low / California Department of Water Resources

By Tara Lohan

It's been the wettest 12 months on record in the continental United States. Parts of the High Plains and Midwest are still reeling from deadly, destructive and expensive spring floods — some of which have lasted for three months.

Mounting bills from natural disasters like these have prompted renewed calls to reform the National Flood Insurance Program, which is managed by Federal Emergency Management Agency and is now $20 billion in debt.

Read More Show Less