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Groups Urge Federal Government to Maintain Fracking Moratorium on California Public Land
HOLLISTER, Calif.— More than 100 groups (see PDF) called on the Bureau of Land Management today to maintain a de facto moratorium on new oil and gas lease sales on California's public lands while the Bureau studies fracking's threats to California.
The letter was signed by Breast Cancer Action, Family Farm Defenders, League of Women Voters of California, California Environmental Justice Alliance, Monterey Against Fracking, California League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the Sierra Club of California and the Center for Biological Diversity, among others. The organizations represent farmers, public health, environmental and environmental justice advocates, businesses and local residents concerned about fracking pollution in their communities.
“Fracking and other forms of unconventional, risky oil development are putting our air, water, wildlife, health and climate at enormous risk,” said Rose Braz of the Center for Biological Diversity. “New York State has prohibited fracking while the dangers are studied, and the federal government should take the same careful approach on California’s beautiful public lands.”
Despite the federal shutdown, BLM personnel will continue to be on duty to oversee drilling activity, and current extraction operations on public lands will continue, even in national parks closed to the public.
In May a federal judge ruled that the Obama administration violated the law by leasing California public land for oil development without considering the risks of fracking. The BLM halted all oil and gas lease sales in California for the rest of the fiscal year and announced it was launching a new environmental analysis of oil and gas leasing on public land in central California, as well as an independent scientific study of fracking statewide. The judge’s ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club. It was the first court opinion to find a federal lease sale invalid for failing to address the risks of fracking.
The groups’ letter emphasizes the need to continue the prohibition: “Critical decisions about opening more of California public lands to oil and gas development and fracking cannot be informed decisions until your studies are complete.”
Fracking uses huge volumes of water mixed with sand and dangerous chemicals to blast open rock formations and release oil and gas. The controversial technique has been used in hundreds and perhaps thousands of California oil and gas wells.
Fracking has been tied to air and water pollution across America; it also releases large amounts of methane, a dangerously potent greenhouse gas.