Though he lives in New Orleans, Truthout.org reporter Mike Ludwig delivered one of the more eye-opening articles on the Santa Barbara Channel last week, when he published a special investigation on offshore hydraulic fracturing, a resource extraction technique better known by the nationally controversial term “fracking.”
After hearing that Venoco Inc. had fracked offshore in 2011 through an Environmental Defense Center report, Ludwig filed a number of Freedom of Information Act requests with the federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), which permits offshore drilling. Upon receiving the reports, Ludwig confirmed the Venoco project and found that the Ventura-based company DCOR, which runs 11 of the 24 rigs off of California, had applied and been given permission to frack.
“It’s important to ask the question of, ‘When do you need to have these federally mandated environmental reviews for certain projects?’,” said Ludwig. “That’s a gray area.” That’s especially true for more “experimental” techniques like fracking, said Ludwig, who acknowledged that the offshore fracks are using far less materials than the inland projects. “Even though it’s much smaller than what’s being done onshore,” said Ludwig, “is it being properly reviewed by regulators are are they rubber-stamping them?”
The Santa Barbara Independent has confirmed that Ludwig’s report was seen by many local, state, and federal agencies, and is trying to determine whether it has triggered any further reviews of the permitting process. Calls to DCOR in Ventura have also been made to determine the status of the company’s fracking project.
Read Ludwig’s full report here.