Environmental Group Sues California Over ‘Fundamentally Flawed’ Fracking Report


An environmental group is suing the state of California’s oil agency for not incorporating certain information into its fracking rules — information that included warnings of the risks fracking poses to drinking water and the environment. In the lawsuit, the Center for Biological Diversity (CDB) states that, though California’s fracking law SB 4 mandated that the state complete an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for fracking, the EIR was “fundamentally flawed” and didn’t incorporate information from a separate statewide report on fracking. That report, which was released after the EIR was finalized, “identified a substantial number of new and more severe risks and harms from well stimulation, including threats to California’s water supplies … and the health risks suffered by millions of Californians who live near oil and gas wells and are exposed to dangerous air pollutants,” the lawsuit states. By not including this independent statewide report on fracking into its EIR, California violated the law, the lawsuit alleges. According to the lawsuit, the deadline for the state’s report on fracking was January 1, 2015, but the report didn’t come out until July 2015 — meaning that it was too late to “meaningfully inform” the EIR. “The whole point of the deadline was that the scientific review would be fully used in the EIR,” Kassie Siegel, director of the CBD’s Climate Law Institute, told ThinkProgress. “We had a promise from the legislature is that we’d have a real scientific review and a real report, and they’d make a decision based on science, and that didn’t happen.” The Center for Biological Diversity is asking the state to halt all new permits for well stimulation, which includes traditional hydraulic fracturing as well as acid fracking. The state’s report recommended that oil and gas development near homes, hospitals, and schools be halted, and it also warned of the dangers of shallow fracking — a method that drills wells less than 2,000 feet deep and that’s used in 75 percent of California’s fracking. According to the lawsuit, the report recommended that permits for shallow fracking be denied unless the state can adequately prove that the method won’t harm groundwater. Siegel said that there was “no way” that California could prove shallow fracking was safe. “When Governor [Andrew] Cuomo reviewed the science, he banned fracking,” she said, referring to New York’s decision to ban the oil and gas extraction technique. The fact that the scientific report wasn’t incorporated into the EIR means that Governor Jerry Brown’s office didn’t adequately review the science of fracking. “Any rational agency that considers these findings would ban fracking,” she said. California’s SB 4, which was signed into law in September 2013, requires oil and gas companies to list the chemicals they use in the fracking process online, but has come under fire from environmentalists, who say the law doesn’t go far enough to protect the state from fracking. Earlier this year, for instance, an investigation found that the California Department of Conservation had been allowing oil companies to inject wastewater into state aquifers. CBD and the Sierra Club filed a lawsuit in an attempt to force the state to stop allowing this practice. “Right now, Californians are completely unprotected from fracking and other dangerous oil activities,” Siegel said. “We haven’t received any protection from fracking at all. We have more information and we were promised that this information would be used…that promise was broken.” Tags CaliforniaClimate ChangeFracking The post Environmental Group Sues California Over ‘Fundamentally Flawed’ Fracking Report appeared first on ThinkProgress.


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