Judge Halts Fracking on Public Lands in California

by Elizabeth Alford on October 3, 2016

Fracking in California has suffered its second setback within the last three years.

Related: Lawyers Challenge BLM Ruling

U.S. District Judge Michael Fitzgerald has halted a plan to allow fracking on public lands in central California, as they continue to weigh the potential impact of the process. Previously, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) had laid out a plan to allow hydraulic fracturing on about a quarter of new wells drilled on about one million acres in California.

The court ruled that the “Bureau failed to take a ‘hard look’ at the environmental impact of the resource management plan (“RMP”) when, under the RMP, 25% of new wells are expected to use hydraulic fracturing. The Bureau is therefore obligated to prepare a supplemental EIS to analyze the environmental consequences flowing from the use of hydraulic fracturing.”

The judge cited potential threats to water supplies and endangered wildlife and ordered the BLM to analyze the impact of fracking. He chided the BLM for their “obvious flaw” of not even addressing the serious environmental and health concerns of this “controversial” drilling technique.

Own mineral in California? Join the discussion here. 

Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued new rules in March 2015 to regulate hydraulic oil and gas fracturing on public lands after a four-year investigation that included over 1.5 million public comments. Industry groups quickly fired back and combined their challenges with state lawsuits to form a massive case that was heard in Judge Scott Skavdahl’s court in July.

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