Jul 21, 2011

Organizations File Protest to Protect Groundwater from Fracking

Groups say drilling will affect water, air and endangered species

The Center for Biological Diversity, the Sierra Club and Los Padres ForestWatch filed a formal protest this week to stop the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from leasing out 2,600 acres of environmentally sensitive land in Monterey and Fresno counties, Calif., for oil and gas development. According to the organizations, the leasing of this federal mining-estate land comes without a thorough examination of the effects drilling will have on California’s landscapes, wildlife and watersheds.

“By turning a blind eye to the dangers of fracking, BLM is putting Monterey’s water quality in serious jeopardy,” said Matt Vespa, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “These sensitive areas ought to be protected, not turned into industrial zones.”

“Thorough environmental review must be completed before any drilling takes place,” said Rita Dalessio of Sierra Club’s Ventana Chapter conservation committee. “We need to protect our water, air and communities from this potentially harmful drilling. Natural gas drilling should not come with the sacrifice of our beautiful California landscapes and certainly not our health."

Future gas drilling would likely involve high-pressure hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” a controversial drilling method linked to water contamination in other parts of the country. Recent reports show fracking has resulted in more than 1,000 documented cases of groundwater contamination, either through the leaking of fracking fluids and methane into groundwater or via aboveground spills of contaminated wastewater.

Oil and gas development also results in the release of significant amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. According to the organizations, areas proposed for leasing include designated watershed areas in Monterey and habitat for endangered and threatened species such as the San Joaquin kit fox and blunt-nosed leopard lizard.