Following the May decision by two federal agencies to approve California coastal fracking, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a notice of intent to sue on Monday against the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) for violating the Endangered Species Act. In a statement issued Monday, the Center for Biological Diversity claims that both bureaus failed to seek consultation from expert wildlife agencies regarding the dangers imposed by fracking on coastal species.
The 60-day notice of intent to sue, spearheaded by Kristen Monsell, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), was filed with the hope of pursuading the bureaus to comply with policies outlined in Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act. The statement also pushes the bureaus to acknowledge the full extent of fracking risk to compensate for what the CBD believes was a “cursory environmental assessment.”
“These platforms are woefully outdated,” said Patrick Sullivan, media specialist for climate change and fracking with CBD. “They were put together during a time when there just wasn’t a lot of knowledge about fracking chemicals and the extreme risk they pose to all coastal species.”
According to the Center for Biological Diversity, at least 10 fracking chemicals pose a serious threat to land and ocean species, a list that includes sea otters, fish, and a variety of seabirds, Santa Barbara’s snowy plover population among them. Fracking support vessels will also continue to endanger the lives of larger mammals and marine life, like whales and sea turtles, with the threat of possible collisions, the group stated. Despite continuing efforts toward better waste control, the federal government still condones the annual dumping of 9 billion gallons of waste and fracking chemicals at platforms off the Santa Barbara coast.
With the Refugio pipeline burst that leaked over 140,000 gallons of crude oil into ocean waters and killed hundreds of marine mammals and birds about a year ago, the reality of the dangers posed by fracking are, for scientists at the Center for Biological Diversity, hard to ignore. “Every offshore frack puts California’s wonderful coastal wildlife at risk from toxic chemicals or another deadly oil spill,” said Monsell. “It’s disturbing to see the federal government ignore its legal responsibility to carefully consider the dangers of offshore fracking and prolonged drilling to whales, sea otters and other species already struggling to survive.”