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EDC, Channelkeeper Win Key Decision Against Feds on Fracking

Groups Demanding More Environmental Review


The Environmental Defense Center (EDC) and Santa Barbara Channelkeeper won a key procedural victory in court against the federal government and the oil industry over the adequacy of environmental review prior to issuing permits for offshore oil development utilizing high-pressure fracking or acidifying technologies. Federal Judge Philip Gutierrez rejected arguments by the American Petroleum Institute and the Department of the Interior that the EDC’s legal challenges were premature and not “ripe.”

The EDC had objected to the Department of the Interior’s finding that there was no cumulative adverse environmental impact from the unlimited use of offshore fracking throughout federal waters in the Pacific, in part, so little fracking was going to be allowed. The EDC cited court declarations submitted by oil industry representatives that offshore fracking was vital to their industry. Regardless, the EDC argued, the Department of the Interior failed to consult with any of the federal agencies ​— ​as required ​— ​about any of the 25 endangered or threatened species found near the fracking sites.

The EDC is demanding more detailed environmental analysis be conducted before fracking permits are issued in the future. By rejecting the federal government’s arguments, Judge Gutierrez’s ruling allows the EDC to make that case.

Editor’s Note: This story has been revised. The 51 permits originally stated were from a previous lawsuit; this one addresses unlimited fracking in federal Pacific waters. Also, the 25 species are endangered and threatened, and marine and terrestrial or avian.

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