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Old Baldy, Canada | photo by Cameron Schaus
Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | monterey county

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

April 2013

In the wake of a landmark legal victory against fracking on public lands (see article on victory), Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) filed a new lawsuit on April 18 challenging the auction of an additional 17,000 Bureau of Land Management (BLM) acres in Monterey, San Benito, and Fresno counties for drilling and fracking.

The lawsuit of which the Ventana Chapter is a sponsor, says the government did not fully consider the dangers fracking poses to watersheds, endangered wildlife and air quality before auctioning off the leases in December.

A federal judge ruled last week, in response to a previous lawsuit by the Sierra Club and CBD, that the BLM had violated the law by issuing other oil leases in Monterey County without considering fracking's threat to the environment. It was the first court opinion to find a federal lease sale invalid for failing to address the risks of fracking.

Last year, BLM auctioned the lands to oil and gas companies at a December lease sale after only a cursory environmental review and despite objections from local citizens and businesses.

Oil companies are increasingly interested in fracking the Monterey Shale, a geological formation beneath the BLM leases that contains an estimated 15.4 billion barrels of oil. Extracting the oil will require fracking, which is known to pollute air, contaminate water, and destroy natural landscapes.

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