California’s Coastal Commission to Investigate Offshore Fracking
Blindsided by revelations of fracking in waters off the coast of California, the state’s Coastal Commission on Thursday vowed an investigation into the controversial practice, including what powers the agency has to regulate it.
The decision came weeks after reports that the oil industry has fracked wells in federal waters off the coast, an activity that has drawn the attention of state lawmakers. Environmental groups also produced documents this week showing fracking has occurred on a dozen wells just off the coast of Long Beach, in state waters.
“We take our obligation to protect the marine environment very seriously and we will be looking at this very carefully,” said Charles Lester, executive director of the Coastal Commission.
The agency, which met this week in Santa Cruz, has clear oversight over oil production in state waters. But it also verifies federal approvals for compliance with state coastal regulations, though it has never held up a project.
“If anybody has the wherewithal and the ability to get to the bottom of something it is the Coastal Commission,” said Dan Haifley, executive director of the Santa Cruz-based O’Neill Sea Odyssey. “I think they’ll do a very thorough investigation on what is a new, unstable element in a less than stable technology, which is offshore oil drilling.”