Coastal Commission to Review Permitting Process for Offshore Fracking

Categories: Environment

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A coalition of environmental groups, including the Surfrider Foundation, is calling for more oversight of offshore fracking. This latest call for oil industry transparency comes in advance of Wednesday's California Coastal Commission meeting, scheduled to take place in Pismo Beach.

According to its agenda, the Commission will discuss the permitting process for offshore fracking operations, which for years has been conducted with little regulatory oversight. Fracking is a method that pumps sand and toxic chemicals deep underground in order to harvest oil and natural gas. Last October, the Associated Press discovered that fracking had occurred more than 200 times off the coasts of Huntington Beach, Seal Beach and Long Beach over the past two decades. In 2013 the California legislature passed SB4 which requires more government oversight of the practice.

In a press release issued last week, Surfrider activists expressed distrust in oil industry claims that it was acting in a transparent fashion.
"Despite [the] industry vowing to conduct their activities in a transparent and open fashion, the fracking industry has repeatedly failed to provide notice of offshore fracking...to the Coastal Commission," the release read.

A report containing a list of recommendations for the Commission released by the environmental groups stated, "The California Coastal Commission is in a unique position to help influence how permitting and monitoring of fracking and other well stimulation techniques should take place on land within the coastal zone and in state and federal waters."

Among the recommendations laid out by the environmental coalition for the Commission to consider is the establishment of a working group made up of state and federal agencies to determine each agency's responsibilities for the oversight of fracking operations.

According to Surfrider Foundation California Policy Manager Stefanie Sekich-Quinn, the differences in oversight between state and federal waters can lead to confusion and requires more discussion by regulators.

"We're very pleased with the Coastal Commission because they're going through their due diligence and they want to understand the best way to regulate offshore fracking," Sekich-Quinn said. "Ultimately what we're hoping is that before this commission hearing, they get some of our recommendations and are able to walk through them and make commitments to following through with those recommendations."

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