As the California Coastal Commission meets today in Pismo Beach, activists with the Center for Biological Diversity will urge commissioners to halt offshore fracking to protect coastal communities and marine wildlife from fracking pollution.
Citing four new offshore frack jobs recently uncovered near Long Beach, the Center wants the commission to prevent the practice by requiring and reviewing permits for fracking. Commission staff will deliver a report today on offshore fracking, which involves blasting massive amounts of water and industrial chemicals into the ocean floor at pressures high enough to crack rock formations.
“The Coastal Commission must recognize that offshore fracking has absolutely no place in California’s fragile ocean ecosystems,” said the Center’s Hillary Aidun, who will speak at the meeting. “Offshore frack jobs use dangerous chemicals and increase the risk of an oil spill that could devastate our entire coast. Commissioners have the authority and the responsibility to take our wildlife and coastal communities out of the fracking crosshairs.”
Four offshore wells in Long Beach Harbor were fracked in December, according to oil industry documents. Oil companies have fracked at least 200 times in waters off Long Beach, Seal Beach and Huntington Beach, as well as in the wildlife-rich Santa Barbara Channel, which hosts the world’s largest summertime gathering of blue whales.
About half the oil platforms in the Santa Barbara Channel discharge some or all of their wastewater into the sea, and the oil industry has federal permission to dump more than 9 billion gallons of wastewater directly into California’s ocean each year.
Such wastewater may contain fracking chemicals injected into the well. A recent Center analysis of 12 frack jobs in state waters found that at least one-third of chemicals used in these fracking operations are suspected ecological hazards. Drawing on data disclosed by oil companies, the Center also found that more than a third of these chemicals are suspected of affecting human developmental and nervous systems.
The Center urges the Coastal Commission to take the following steps: require oil companies to obtain coastal development permits for fracking in state waters; require review of all offshore oil and gas fracking activities in federal waters off California to ensure consistency with coastal protection; and issue guidance to local governments to amend their coastal programs to prevent fracking that threatens coastal waters.
“A complete halt to offshore fracking is the best way to protect California’s marine life and surfers and swimmers from this incredibly toxic practice,” Aidun said. “The risk to humans and animals increases with every day the Coastal Commission fails to act.”