Comprehensive Federal Analysis Confirms “No Significant Environmental Impacts” from Offshore Fracking

This week, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) released a joint Programmatic Environmental Assessment (EA)  analyzing well stimulation treatments (WSTs), including hydraulic fracturing (fracking) on the 23 oil and gas platforms on the Outer Continental Shelf off California’s shore. The two agencies issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) on the environment from WSTs.

According to BOEM Director Abigail Ross Hopper:

“Drawing on the best available science, the EA provides information and analysis on the use of well stimulation treatments in federal waters offshore California. The comprehensive analysis shows that these practices, conducted according to permit requirements, have minimal impact.”

BSEE Director Brian Salerno added:

“BSEE is fully committed to safeguarding the environment. Anyone familiar with our regulations understands that they not only address worker and operational safety, but also require the industry to function as environmental stewards. We consider vigorous environmental enforcement central to the Bureau’s mission.”

The EA, which was conducted as part of settlement agreements to resolve lawsuits regarding the Bureaus’ compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, and Coastal Zone Management Act, is good news for Californians truly concerned about the environmental impacts of oil and gas development, a group that includes most Californians who cherish our coastline.

As EID has pointed out in the past, however, good environmental news is seen a disappointment for a specific sub-group: fringe anti-energy activist organizations raise money and gain followers spreading misinformation intended to scare people into taking action, even if that “action” is based on a lie.

One of the most ubiquitous fringe groups to scare people about fracking — so that it can pursue its true goal of eliminating the energy industry — is the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD).

CBD, whose business model is to file frivolous lawsuits intended to thwart the work of regulators (CBD’s founder has admitted to wanting to “mock” regulators charged with protecting the environment), wasted no time in casting doubt on the new federal EA, which was developed as a result of a settlement in a suit that CBD filed.

In a hastily issued press release, Miyoko Sakashita, director of CBD’s “Oceans” program, was quick to accuse President Obama and his scientific advisors of outright negligence and insufficient commitment to science and environmental protection.

CBD and its allies believe that if they continue to use words like “hazards,” “controversial,” and “dangerous” it will obscure for their supporters the fact that the latest EA, and analyses preceding it, confirmed that their rhetorical flourishes are simply outright lies and in fact fracking is a routine and well-understood practice that has been used safely since the 1940s. It is increasingly amazing that these falsehoods get any traction at all, because scientists, regulators and academics continue to study fracking and continue to confirm its fundamental safety.

For those of us who truly value California’s environment, and our historical commitment to strong environmental stewardship, this week’s news that offshore development poses minimal risk is very welcome news indeed.

Click here for more on the safety of fracking in California, both onshore and offshore.



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