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Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | monterey county

Sierra Club and CBD Win Major Fracking Lawsuit Victory:
Federal Judge Rules that BLM Failed to Consider Effects of Fracking on Oil Leases

April 2013
Steelhead rescue, Carmel River South Monterey County land near Lockwood-San Ardo Road looking northeast across BLM Lease Parcel 15 towards the Salinas Valley. Parcel 15 was auctioned off in December by BLM in spite of Sierra Club and CBD protests. Sierra Club is considering litigation in federal court. This is an area of prime inner Coast Range habitat with a mosaic of vegetation including Chaparral, Oak and Foothill Pine Woodland. (Photo: Nikki Nedeff)

On April 7, Sierra Club and Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) won a challenge to Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) September 2011 mineral lease sale, which leased roughly 2700 acres for oil and gas development in Fresno and Monterey counties.

Federal Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal granted the Club's motion for summary judgment on the primary issue, which was that BLM failed to consider the effects of fracking.

The potential consequences of this ruling are very significant, as Monterey County is believed to have one of the largest deposits of shale oil in the nation.

In issuing his ruling, the judge stated that fracking both makes oil and gas production more likely, and it increases the risk of oil and gas production that does occur.

On the first issue, BLM's entire National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis was predicated on a 2006 “reasonably foreseeable development” forecast for the region. Based on this forecast, BLM concluded that at most one exploratory well but no production wells were likely be drilled on the leased acreage. The Club and CBD successfully argued that BLM needed to consider whether the advent of fracking and unconventional production made continued reliance on this scenario arbitrary and capricious, as now that industry knows how to get oil out of previously inaccessible rock, industry is likely to drill more if given the chance.

On the second issue, the court found that BLM failed to consider the risks attributable of fracking itself, including risks of contamination of the San Antonio and Nacimiento reservoirs.

Monterey County Supervisors Dave Potter and Simon Salinas were two local representatives who had sought the delay of the 2012 lease sales. Citing concern for water issues and the potential for earthquakes, both said the court decision was a victory for the environment.

The Ventana Chapter Executive Committee has voted to support and contribute costs to efforts by Sierra Club and CBD to file administrative protests of two additional BLM lease sales in the same region, raising the same issues which prevailed in this case. BLM recently denied the Club and CBD's protest regarding the subsequent December 2012 lease sale, and the Club now has the option of challenging this decision in federal court. We have also protested BLM's upcoming May 2013 lease sale.

< back to all issues

section title

Sierra Club and CBD Submit Comments to Bureau of Land Management's Request for Public Review of Oil and Gas Leasing and Development on Federal Lands
April 2017

Sierra Club Plans to Comment on Bureau of Land Management Request for Public Review of Oil and Gas Leasing and Development on Federal Lands
January 2017

Crude Oil Train Rail Spur Extension Project Closer to Approval by San Luis Obispo Planning
May 2016

Sierra Club and Other Groups File Lawsuit against California Oil Regulators
December 2015

Sierra Club, Other Groups File Federal Lawsuit to Curb Unsafe Oil Trains
May 2015

Earthjustice, Sierra Club and Center of Biological Diversity File Lawsuit to Halt California Oil Injection Practices
May 2015

Sierra Club Condemns State Injection Well Practices, Calls for Investigation
February 2015

Sierra Club Submits Comment Letter to DOGGR
November 2014

Monterey County Board of Supervisors Review Fracking Regulations
September 2014

Trio Petroleum Well Permit Denied at Monterey County Planning Commission
August 2014

A Renewable Energy Economy?
August 2014

Sierra Club CA Submits Comments to DOGGR on Fracking
August 2014

Chapter Submits Comments to BLM Regarding the Dangers of Fracking
February 2014

Santa Cruz County Moves To Adopt Fracking Moratorium
December 2013

Sierra Club Opposes Weak Fracking Bill SB 4 Passed by the Assembly
September 2013

Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity Win a Major Fracking Decision for Central California
August 2013

Chapter Submits Comments to State Regulatory Board Regarding Lack of Oversight for Fracking; Public Concern Grows
May 2013

Sierra Club and CBD Win Major Fracking Lawsuit Victory
April 2013

New Sierra Club Lawsuit Aims to Protect More Public Lands from Fracking
April 2013

Sierra Club Sues California Department of Conservation Over Dangers of Fracking
October 2012

Sierra Club and Center for Biological Diversity Sue BLM over Oil Leases
February 2012

Club files protest to stop fracking in Monterey County
August 2011

Controversial fracking method approved for oil drilling near Salinas River
April 2011