Judge Puts Hold on Plan to Open California Lands to Fracking

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A federal judge has tentatively rejected a plan by the federal Bureau of Land Management to open more than 1,500 square miles of Central California lands to oil drilling and fracking.

U.S. District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald ruled Tuesday that the BLM failed to take a “hard look” at the environmental effects of the estimated 25 percent of new wells that would be devoted to fracking. The process, formally known as hydraulic fracturing, uses high-pressure mixtures of water, sand and chemicals to extract oil and gas from rock.

Fitzgerald ruled that the BLM must provide more study on the effects fracking will have in the area. He gave the agency’s attorneys until Sept. 21 to argue why he should not issue an injunction stopping the plan.

The ruling came in a lawsuit brought by a pair of environmental groups, the Center for Biological Diversity and Los Padres ForestWatch.