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California Sued by Conservation Groups Over Fracking Risk

California was sued by the Sierra Club and other groups seeking to block approval of new oil and gas wells because regulators have allegedly failed to consider or evaluate the risks of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

The state’s division of oil, gas and geothermal resources regularly approves permits for wells without any environmental analysis about the health effects of fracking by excluding such projects from review, lawyers for the groups said in a complaint filed today in state court in Oakland, California.

The division doesn’t currently track, monitor or have any specific standards for hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas wells, and doesn’t know where or how often fracking occurs in California, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit seeks a court order declaring the practice violates state environmental laws and an order prohibiting approval of new wells until the state evaluates the risks of fracking.

California’s conservation department, named as a defendant, hasn’t been served with a lawsuit, said Ed Wilson, an agency spokesman, in an e-mail. The department doesn’t comment on pending litigation, he said.

In fracking, millions of gallons of chemically treated water and sand are forced underground to break shale rock and free trapped gas. The process has been blamed for groundwater contamination.

The case is Center for Biological Diversity v. California Department of Conservation, RG12-652054, Superior Court of California, Alameda County (Oakland).

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