Lack of State and Federal Oversight of Offshore Fracking Could Imperil the Santa Barbara Coastline

From Truth Out:

By Zach Swim and Dina Rasor
Wednesday, 03 October 2012

While a drilling company with an erratic history and cavalier leadership leverages expansion of its onshore operations with ocean drilling by the risky and increasingly notorious method of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, regulators are looking the other way.

The environmental movement went national in 1969 when an oil rig blew up in the Santa Barbara channel and coated the lovely Santa Barbara coastline and the Channel Islands with thick, goopy oil. As the nation watched desperate, oil-soaked birds and sea lions struggling for breath, attitudes began to change toward what we were doing to our national beauty and resources, and Earth Day began. Ironically, while the nation is waking up to the risks of onshore hydraulic fracturing – otherwise known as fracking – for gas and oil on the East coast and in the Midwest, indeterminate fracking is occurring on at least one oil platform in the same picturesque Santa Barbara channel, right next to the Channel Island Marine Reserve and in an area festooned with earthquake faults.

This map – which is a combination of oil company Venesco’s offshore oil fields (named Sockeye and South Ellwood), the delicate federal marine reserves of the Channel Islands, and the web of earthquake faults – shows the fragility of the area that, in at least one or more cases, is being fracked to enhance old oil fields.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a long-used method of extracting natural gas and oil out of spent or difficult gas and oil deposits or out of current wells. It has recently had a resurgence because of new technology and the market push for more US natural gas and oil. Truthout readers are familiar with our work on fracking in the East and Midwest, our coverage of concerns of leaking injection wells where the fracking wastewater is stored and even the problems of injection wells causing rare, moderate earthquakes in areas like Ohio.

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