Fracking fight bubbles up in Santa Barbara Channel

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The contentious debate over fracking in California is coming to a head in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

A Central Coast environmental group is suing the federal government for allowing the use of off-shore fracking to drill for oil and natural gas in the Santa Barbara Channel. The Interior Department has issued dozens of permits that allow oil companies to use either hydraulic fracturing or a process called acid well stimulation in the channel.

The Environmental Defense Center says the feds handed out those permits without a public review or a full environmental study. The group claims the drilling operations would cause air and water pollution and harm animals like whales and otters. The fracking and acidizing operations would take place on off-shore oil platforms. The government has not commented on the suit.sboilspill

Voters in two California counties – San Benito and Mendocino – approved fracking bans in last month’s election, but Santa Barbara voters overwhelmingly rejected a measure to bar the practice.

The Environmental Defense Center, by the way, was founded in response to a huge oil spill off the Santa Barbara Coast in 1969.