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Challenging Fracking in California

As the sun sets on another California day, a flare burns in an oil field near Bakersfield, CA.

As the sun sets on another California day, a flare burns in an oil field near Bakersfield, CA.

Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice

What's at Stake

Fracking is a controversial procedure used by drillers in California to extract deposits of oil and gas from depleted wells or from geologic formations where conventional drilling is ineffective.

Hundreds of thousands to millions of gallons of water are mixed with toxic chemicals and injected down each well at high pressure, fracturing the underground rock formation to force the oil or gas to flow to the surface.

Case Overview

The country is in the midst of an oil and gas drilling boom, aided by the controversial drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, also known as "fracking." As fracking has increased, reports of poisoned water, polluted air and other environmental harms are also on the rise.

In California, where fracking is accelerating, rubber-stamped permits for oil drilling are the norm. The government isn’t paying any attention to the negative environmental and public health impacts of fracking, even though oil and gas companies are using this controversial form of drilling at unprecedented rates in the state.

Earthjustice went to court to force the state agency responsible for regulating the oil and gas industry to ensure that public health and the environment in California are protected.

Case Updates

July 22, 2015 | Feature

The California Drought

Who gets the water and who's hung out to dry? The historic drought has dredged up old feuds over who can lay claim to water in a thirsty state. As the powerful lobby for the agricultural industry—which currently consumes 80% of California's water supply—cries for more water to be pumped to their farms in the arid regions of the Central Valley, just who would be left high and dry?

January 24, 2014 | Blog Post

Thirsty Industry Wants to Frack Parched State

With severe drought conditions predicted for winter, California's Gov. Brown is demanding that state agencies immediately scale back water consumption, while urging Californians to reduce water use by 20 percent. Yet, contrary to enforcing water conservation, Brown recently gave the ‘green light’ to fracking California’s Monterey Shale—a process that consumes vast quantities of water.

January 2, 2014 | In the News: New York Times

California Introduces Emergency Rules for Fracking

As hundreds of California oil and gas wells undergo dangerous hydraulic fracturing without government oversight, environmental advocates, represented by Earthjustice, are in court to force the agency responsible for regulating the oil and gas industry to abide by the state’s foremost law that protects public health and the environment.

June 18, 2013 | In the News:

Expanding natural gas exports would encourage natural gas fracking in California

As the nation’s largest oil and gas companies push the Obama administration to allow the unlimited exportation of liquefied natural gas, a swarm of environmental groups has urged the President to oppose such an expansion until additional environmental and economic studies have been conducted. Unlimited liquefied natural gas exportation would increase domestic gas prices and multiply the harmful environmental and health consequences of fracking.

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