US federal appeals court affirms moratorium on offshore fracking off California

A US federal appeals court has ruled that the government in 2016 violated the National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act, and Coastal Zone Management Act when it allowed fracking in offshore oil and gas wells in all leased federal waters off California.

The decision upholds a district court’s 2018 ruling that the Interior Department violated the Endangered Species Act in allowing fracking and acidising in federal waters off California without carefully studying the risks to endangered species like sea otters.

The order also reversed the lower court’s ruling that the department’s cursory environmental assessment satisfied its obligations to take a hard look at the environmental impacts of allowing these forms of oil extraction, finding instead that it must prepare a comprehensive environmental analysis.

The appeals court order prohibits the Interior Department from issuing fracking permits until it completes Endangered Species Act consultation and an environmental impact statement that “fully and fairly evaluate[s] all reasonable alternatives.”

Three separate lawsuits were filed, by the Center for Biological Diversity and Wishtoyo Foundation, the state of California, and the Environmental Defense Center, challenging the federal government’s approval and environmental review of offshore fracking in the Pacific Ocean.

Kim Biggar

Kim Biggar started writing in the supply chain sector in 2000, when she joined the Canadian Association of Supply Chain & Logistics Management. In 2004/2005, she was project manager for the Government of Canada-funded Canadian Logistics Skills Committee, which led to her 13-year role as communications manager of the Canadian Supply Chain Sector Council. A longtime freelance writer, Kim has contributed to publications including The Forwarder, 3PL Americas, The Shipper Advocate and Supply Chain Canada.
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