World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


EPA Rule Requires Chemical Disclosure for Offshore Fracking

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published a rule on January 9, 2014 requiring oil and gas companies using hydraulic fracturing off the coast of California to disclose the chemicals they discharge into the ocean. Oil and gas companies have been fracking offshore California for perhaps as long as two decades, but they largely flew under the radar until recently.

An Associated Press story in August 2013 revealed that oil and gas companies had engaged in hydraulic fracturing at least a dozen times in the Santa Barbara Channel – the site of the nation’s first offshore drilling site as well as the first major oil spill. The 1969 well blowout in the Santa Barbara Channel became the impetus for a series of environmental laws such as the National Environmental Policy Act and the Clean Water Act.

Documents published through a Freedom of Information Act request showed that federal regulators have allowed drillers to dump chemicals into the ocean without an environmental impact statement assessing the effects of doing so. This was largely unknown to California regulators and the general public. The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement – the federal regulator responsible for regulating offshore oil drilling – has issued “categorical exclusions” for fracking offshore California, essentially giving frack jobs a pass on environmental assessments. The logic is that offshore fracking has largely occurred in existing wells, locations for which companies already jumped through all the environmental hoops long ago.

Offshore fracking could be much more widespread than even federal regulators are aware. According to the Environmental Defense Center, BSEE only began to learn about the extent to which fracking was occurring offshore when pressed to respond to FOIA requests.

The industry maintains that hydraulic fracturing is safe, and BSEE officials point to the fact that fracking offshore requires only a fraction of the water needed to do the job onshore.

But offshore fracking differs from the onshore practice in at least one important way. After an onshore well is fracked, the waste water is often re-injected into the ground for storage. However, offshore drillers often simply dump the waste water into the ocean – although the industry claims the water is treated before entering the marine environment.

The latest EPA rule would merely require companies to report the chemicals that they are discharging into the ocean. The rule is a weak one because relies upon companies to self-report their activities.

EPA’s announcement is a new wrinkle in the story of fracking in California, which has been much more raucously debated onshore. Last year, the state passed a controversial law that introduced the first regulations on fracking. It requires companies to disclose the chemicals used in the drilling process, obtain permits, and monitor air and water quality. Environmentalists rejected the law and are calling for afull moratorium.

Governor Jerry Brown does not support a ban on fracking and insists the new law is rigorous. Despite the complex geology that could prevent California from ever living up to its oil and gas potential, the industry and many policymakers remain in favor of trying to exploit the vast oil and gas reserves in California – both on and offshore.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Julie Webb-Pullman: Palestinian National Unity Government

A national unity government. Elections. A new-look PLO. Community reconciliation. Big hopes, even bigger expectations as representatives of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) and Hamas came to an agreement in Gaza today to form a national unity government and hold elections. More>>

ALSO:

Whaling: Japan’s Institute for Cetacean Research In Defiance Of World Court Ruling

The ICR Today Filed Court Briefs Stating They Intend to Return to Antarctica to Hunt Whales in 2015-2016; Will Seek to Enjoin Other Sea Shepherd Entities from Obstructing Their Operations More>>

Ukraine: UN Urges 'Maximum Restraint' Amid Situation In East Ukraine

Deeply concerned by the deteriorating situation in eastern Ukraine, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for maximum restraint and appealed to all sides to work towards calming the situation, which has the 'growing potential' to ... More>>

United Nations: Children Can Now Lodge Complaints With The UN

GENEVA (14 April 2014) – United Nations child rights experts have hailed a new treaty that allows children to complain directly to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child about alleged violations of their rights. More>>

India: Election But A Ritual In Nation Lacking Rule Of Law

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) congratulates the people of India for their participation to elect the 16th Lok Sabha. The process has attracted, as usual, considerable media attention across the world. Media claims the process to be 'the largest democratic ... More>>

Solomon Islands: Thousands Remain Affected After Flash Floods

An estimated 52,000 people remain affected in the worst-hit areas of Honiara and greater Guadalcanal following last week’s devastating floods which killed at least 23 people. More>>

ALSO:

World: Some 437,000 People Murdered Worldwide In 2012 - UN

Almost half a million people across the world lost their lives in 2012 as a result of intentional homicide, with the highest murder rates logged in the Americas and Africa, and the lowest in Europe, Asia and Oceania, the United Nations Office on ... More>>

Central African Republic:: Security Council Establishes UN Peacekeeping Mission

Deeply concerned about the deteriorating security situation and ongoing human rights abuses in the Central African Republic (CAR), the Security Council today approved the establishment of a nearly 12,000-strong United Nations peacekeeping operation ... More>>

ALSO:

Parliament: NZ Sending Aid Flight To Solomons

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully has announced further support for the response to severe flooding in Solomon Islands. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news