The U.S. Bureau of Land Management violated an environmental law by failing to take the necessary “hard look” at the impact of hydraulic fracturing when it sold oil and gas leases inCalifornia, a federal judge said.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal in San Jose, California, said the BLM violated the National Environmental Policy Act by relying on outdated reviews, conducted before the extraction process known as fracking spurred massive development of energy deposits, when the U.S. sold four leases in 2011 for 2,700 acres of federal land in Monterey and Fresno counties.
In the absence of statewide regulations for hydraulic fracturing, Southern California air-quality officials have enacted their own reporting rules for the controversial extraction process driving the country’s oil and gas boom.
On Friday, the governing board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District adopted a rulethat requires oil companies to notify the air agency 10 days to 24 hours before beginning drilling operations, including “fracking,” which involves injecting large volumes of chemical-laced water and sand deep into the ground to break apart rock and release oil.
Federal accident investigators urged a complete overhaul of California’s “patchwork” of oil industry regulations Friday at a state legislative hearing into the fire last year at Chevron’s Richmond refinery.
“This patchwork system of regulation has serious challenges,” said Don Holmstrom, who is leading the investigation for the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, adding that California’s ineffective regulatory efforts reflect weaknesses in federal and other state oversight programs.