Federal Study Finds No Adverse Environmental Impacts from Offshore Fracking, Activist Group Displeased

The Environmental Defense Center (EDC), an activist group focused primarily on the environmental protection California’s majestic central coast, is none too happy with a draft study by the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (“BOEM”) and Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (“BSEE”) on the safety of offshore well-stimulation treatments (WSTs), most notably hydraulic fracturing (fracking).

You see, these federal bureaus, which are part of the U.S. Department of the Interior, found no adverse environmental impacts from fracking and or acid well-stimulations.

This is what is traditionally known as “good news.” But instead of being happy that it was wrong about “fracking” and “acidizing” – words that sound scary but are simply descriptions of routine oilfield processes – the EDC has provided the latest example of “environmental” activist groups being upset about good news for the environment —  news the EDC sought-out as part of a lawsuit settlement agreement.

You can read the report, prepared by Argonne National Laboratory and entitled Programmatic Environmental Assessment of the Use of Well Stimulation Treatments on the Southern California Outer Continental Shelf, here.

Beginning on page ES-11 of the Executive Summary, the report compared potential impacts from WSTs and evaluated alternatives across a range of potential impacts – from air quality to environmental justice – and it found the following:

  • Air quality: “No noticeable WST-related impacts on regional air quality expected. Negligible emission of greenhouse gases.”
  • Water quality: “No WST-related impacts expected; although slight localized reduction in water quality at surface water discharge location.”
  • Induced seismicity (earthquakes): “Low potential for induced seismicity.”
  • Benthic resources: “No WST-related impacts expected.”
  • Marine and coastal fish; sea turtles, marine and coastal birds, marine mammals: “No WST-related impacts expected; potential for subtle toxic effects in some species from WST chemicals occurring withint the NPDES discharge mixing zone…”
  • Commercial and recreational fisheries: “No WST-related impacts expected.”
  • Areas of special concern, recreation and tourism, archaeological resources, environmental justice: No WST-related impacts expected.
  • Socioeconomics: No WST-related impacts or benefits expected.

This is, of course, great news for residents Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties, and, indeed, for all Californians and visitors to our beautiful state. That this news was greeted with skepticism from an environmental activist group should come as no surprise. No matter what the source – state or federal government, leading academic institutions, or the industry itself – scientific research that repeatedly and unambiguously shows that hydraulic fracturing is fundamentally safe with manageable risks (and also protective of the environment) does nothing to keep people scared. It’s hard to pay for those lawsuits without scared contributors. And just in case you thought EDC was really concerned about the safety of fracking, and that it would be happy if it was (once again) found to be safe, they give the game away:

“[T]here is no place these well stimulation techniques should take place, not on land or in our ocean.”

This, then, is merely another extreme activist group that wants to ban the production of domestic oil and gas entirely, never mind that it is one of the backbones of California’s economy as the fourth largest energy producing state, providing hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions in revenue for much-needed public projects — all while increasing our energy security and reducing our dependence on — and the higher carbon footprint of — imported foreign oil.

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

A version of this article was published by


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