Suzanne Potter / California News Service
CAMARILLO, Calif. — Protesters rallied Tuesday to keep a statewide moratorium on fracking for oil and gas in federal waters off of the California coast.
The group picketed in front of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s offices in Camarillo because the federal officials are expected to release a final decision by the end of this week on whether to lift a moratorium that was imposed in January. The agency recommended doing just that in its draft environmental assessment a few months ago.
Tomas Rebecchi, Ventura County organizer for the nonprofit advocacy group Food and Water Watch, said this is a rushed decision with major consequences.
“They’re allowed to dump 9 billion gallons of contaminated wastewater directly into our oceans every year,” he said. “The environmental review that they put together was inadequate and too quick, and there needs to be more studies done because this can definitely negatively impact our health and our ocean.”
The draft assessment argued that fracking can be done safely. However, Rebecchi maintained that offshore fracking is inherently dangerous, citing the risk of oil spills and pollution from wastewater as well as a possible link to earthquakes. Dozens of wells already are in place in federal waters three miles off Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles and Orange counties, he said, drilling with traditional techniques and able to restart using fracturing technology right away.
“There’s been over 200 offshore fracks in state and federal waters here in California, and on land here in Ventura County, too, there’s been a significant amount of fracking,” he said. “It’s the second most fracked county in California.”The moratorium came about as part of a settlement after conservation groups sued the federal government, alleging it was rubber stamping applications without proper environmental review.
The draft environmental assessment is online at pocswellstim.evs.anl.gov.