[Source: Forbes] Last month, the Obama Administration’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (“BOEM”) and Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (“BSEE”) in a ruling found no significant environmental effects of hydraulic fracturing off the California shores.
The debate over the safety and implications of fracking has grown over several years to include issues of water contamination and safety, earthquake tremors, and other adverse environmental conditions. The latest iteration of the fracking debate took place in California, where offshore fracking permits had been temporarily suspended pending an environmental impact study.
As reported by The Hill, the ruling, released jointly by the two federal agencies included analysis spanning 30 years and 23 offshore fracking operations. The determination that there would be no “significant” impact on the water quality or health of the ocean indicates that the extraction method is a minimal risk when performed offshore and according to industry standards. While the ruling stated that in the case of most resources, impacts of fracking will be “negligible,” “where impacts are somewhat more pronounced, such as with discharge of produced water, the impacts are minor, short-term and localized.”
There have been over 200 fracking sites off the California coast. In response to protests from environmental groups, the Department of the Interior agreed to cease permitting until a thorough analysis could be completed. According to BOEM Director Abigail Hopper, “the comprehensive analysis shows that these practices, conducted according to permit requirements, have minimal impact.”
The ruling comes exactly one month after the Hydraulic Fracturing Panel of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (“EPA”) Science Advisory Board (“SAB”) reaffirmed the EPA’s own assessment on the impacts of fracking on drinking water resources. The Panel agreed with the EPA that fracking had “no widespread, systemic impacts” on drinking water. In its report, the EPA examined over 3,500 individual sources of information, and cited over 950 sources. Twenty-nine of the 30 members of the SAB found the EPA’s approach and analysis was “appropriate and comprehensive.”
June 1, 2016