In the three weeks since a Truthout investigation revealed that federal regulators have approved at least two hydraulic fracturing operations in federal waters of the Santa Barbara Channel since 2009, a state commission has launched an investigation into the practice, California lawmakers have demanded a federal investigation, and environmental groups discovered that fracking also has occurred in state waters.
Internal government documents released to Truthout under the Freedom of Information Act show that fracking technology has been deployed at least a dozen times in federal ocean waters, including a "frack pack" in the Santa Barbara Channel approved by federal regulators this year.
As the story reverberated through the media, environmental groups reviewed state records and FracFocus.org, an online database that allows oil and gas firms to voluntarily disclose well information, and found that fracking also has occurred at least a dozen times in state waters since 2011. In California, the first three miles of ocean off the coast fall under state jurisdiction and waters beyond are considered federal.
Under heavy pressure from environmental groups and state politicians, the California Coastal Commission launched an investigation last week into the practice of offshore fracking. The commission, which is charged with protecting California's coastal resources, had said it was not aware that fracking technology was being used offshore until recent media reports shed light on the issue.