Environmental Groups Challenge Fracking Permits

A lawsuit filed October 16, 2012, in Alameda County Superior Court on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity, Earthworks, Environmental Working Group, and Sierra Club, alleges that the California Department of Conservation, Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (“DOGGR”) has failed to consider or evaluate the risks of fracking as required by the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”). Specifically, the suit alleges that the DOGGR violated CEQA “by issuing permits for oil and gas wells based on boilerplate negative declarations that do not provide the required environmental review, or let alone even mention, the impacts of hydraulic fracturing.”

According to a Sierra Club press release, the DOGGR—the state agency charged with regulating all oil and gas well activity in California—acknowledges “it has not permitted or monitored the impacts of fracking and has never formally calculated the potential environmental and health effects of the practice, even as it continues to approve new permits for oil and gas wells.” The lawsuit asks the court to issue “[a]n injunction enjoining the DOGGR from the approval of any further permits for oil and gas wells where hydraulic fracturing may occur within the state of California unless and until it complies with the requirements of CEQA by considering, evaluating, and mitigating the environmental and public health impacts associated with hydraulic fracturing.”

Earthjustice attorney, George Torgun, who represents the environmental groups, stated

“Right now, the people of California don’t know where or when the drillers are fracking, what chemicals they are using, what pollutants they are releasing into the air and water, and what other risks they’re taking. That’s because the state hasn’t required them to disclose any information on fracking activities.”

Some other states, including Louisiana, have adopted regulations requiring companies engaged in fracking to report the chemicals used in their fracking fluids.

 

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