Energy & Environment

Green groups sue Trump administration over California fracking plans analysis

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Environmental groups sued the Trump administration Tuesday over its fracking plans in California, arguing that a federal analysis it adopted didn’t adequately review “serious environmental and health impacts.” 

The lawsuit filed Tuesday on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity, the Sierra Club and others accuses the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) of opening public lands “to harmful oil and gas leasing and development, in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).”

It seeks to prevent the agency from carrying out oil and gas leasing under a 2014 resource management plan “pending compliance with NEPA.”

The groups argue that the analysis adopted by BLM’s Bakersfield, Calif., office “unlawfully minimizes the number of wells predicted to be fracked on new leases, and fails to adequately analyze the impacts of fracked wells on existing leases, leading to an underestimation of the impacts to air quality, climate, water quantity and quality, human health and safety, recreational uses, national park units and other public lands, and seismicity.”

A BLM spokeswoman said in a statement that the agency “will be reviewing” the lawsuit.

“The BLM’s supplemental analysis on hydraulic fracturing did not make any new public lands or Federal minerals available to oil and gas development, nor did it issue any new leases or approve any permits to drill. If proposed, those actions and the potential impacts would be addressed at the site or project-specific level in subsequent tiered environmental analysis,” the statement read.

Michelle Ghafar, one of the lawyers on the case, said in a statement that BLM was choosing the oil industry over health and safety. 

“We’re returning to court once again to ensure the agency properly analyzes the impacts of devastating fracking activities in its plan,” Ghafar said. 

The Trump administration also announced last year that it would open up 725,000 acres in California to oil and gas lease sales, ending a five-year pause. That decision is facing a court challenge. 

—Updated at 8:48 p.m.


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