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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.

A flare burns in a California oil field.

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.


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

October 19, 2016 | Article

Oil and Gas Threat Map Shows At-Risk Populations

A government bureau wants to open up one million acres of central California land to more fracking, but an Earthjustice lawsuit shows that the bureau needs to think before it acts.

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?