Calling it “a refusal to consider the science,” a legal critic of an environmental impact report (EIR) addressing fracking roundly criticized Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration recently pursuant to a demand that fracking be halted in California pending close review of important data that hasn’t yet been considered.
That demand is in the form of a lawsuit filed late last month by the Center for Biological Diversity, a national environmental group. The center seeks an injunction on all fracking activities within the state, with the complaint it filed in a state court contending that unexamined scientific evidence concerning the methods used to extract oil from underground rock formations warrants the withholding of new fracking permits.
Fracking is a sensitive subject in California. Legislation passed in the state in 2013 mandated the issuance of the above-cited EIR, along with an independent scientific study on the technology. The EIR was timely released last month. What has inspired the wrath of environmental advocates concerned with fracking technology is that the commissioned study was delayed and ultimately not released until after the EIR was published. Thus, its findings were not considered in the impact report.
The central issue posed by fracking has always been subsumed within a cost/benefit analysis. Critics say that there is ample evidence to indicate that fracking presents material environmental concerns. Although the EIR does acknowledge some of those concerns (including water-related risks posed by the chemicals used in fracking), the report states that they can be mitigated and that the alternative to fracking — namely, mass importation of crude oil — is more harmful to the environment.
Other states have recently imposed bans on major fracking enterprises.