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Conservation groups attempt to stop fracking on public lands in California
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Conservation groups attempt to stop fracking on public lands in California

Conservation groups sued the Trump administration in federal court on Tuesday for opening up federal lands in California to hydraulic fracturing.

Conservation groups including Biological Diversity, National Parks Conservation Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, Patagonia Works, and the Sierra Club claim that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) failed to “adequately analyze the serious environmental and health impacts from hydraulic fracturing (or ‘fracking’).”

The failure of the BLM to adequately analyze the impacts in their final supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) violates the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The SEIS that was completed analyzed “more than 400,000 acres of federal lands, 1.2 million acres of federal mineral estate across eight counties in California’s southern Central Coast and Central Valley region.” The plaintiffs argue that the SEIS unlawfully minimizes the number of new fracking wells, inadequately analyzes the impacts of the fracked wells, which leads to “an underestimation of the impacts on air quality, climate, water quantity and quality, human health and safety, recreational issues, national park units and other public lands, and seismicity.”

The plaintiffs claim that fracking contributes to poor air quality, climate change, threatens public lands, and threatens the health and safety of communities. The suit identifies a few specific areas that would be impacted by allowing fracking on these federal lands. The suit states that the San Joaquin Valley region of Kern County is already designated as “extreme nonattainment for federal air pollution standards” and the process of fracking would exacerbate these issues because it requires the use of toxic chemicals that could contaminate water and could enter the air during the venting of gases. Additionally, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are already suffering from degrading visibility and allowing fracking will worsen visibility and jeopardize their ecosystems and visitor health.

The plaintiffs are seeking declarative and injunctive relief in this action.