Williston, North Dakota; the Alberta tar sands; the Marcellus Shale. In recent years, these names have become synonymous with hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” Fracking – especially unconventional fracking, used to access shale rock, coal beds, and oil sands — is associated with the use of toxic chemicals, water and soil contamination, and heightened risk of earthquakes. With movies like “Gasland” and multiple features on National Public Radio, these impacts have become well-known.
Fracking, however, is not just a terrestrial phenomenon. In many parts of the world, including in the United States, oil and gas companies are taking to the seas. The details of these offshore fracking ventures are shrouded in the mist; we know that some companies have been engaged in marine fracking for decades, while others are just getting into the game. Unfortunately, it appears that the law has been an accomplice in keeping these operations shielded from the public eye, excluding certain fracking operations from normal scrutiny.
Sea Shepherd Legal (SSL) plans to change all that. In partnership with Lewis & Clark Law School’s International Environmental Law Project (IELP), SSL is launching a comprehensive investigation to pull back the curtain on marine fracking. Our work in this area will include the development of maps and briefing papers to help the public better understand the impacts of offshore fracking, what chemicals and processes are employed, where it is taking place, and by whom it is financed.
Only recently has the public learned that the U.S. has been permitting offshore fracking for decades. Most of the regulated events occurring as part of the fracking process are subject to dated regulations or exceptions, such as categorical exclusions under the National Environmental Policy Act. Our goal is to understand the current U.S. regulatory regime in order to build a more protective system. To accomplish this latter goal, we plan to use all tools at our disposal, including administrative engagement and litigation.
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Nota: Una traducción al español estará disponible muy pronto.