SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The U.S. Bureau of Land Management will resume issuing oil and gas leases next year for federal lands in California after a new study found limited environmental impacts from fracking and other enhanced drilling techniques, the agency said Thursday.
The move will end a halt that has stood since a federal judge ruled in 2013 that the federal agency failed to follow environmental law in allowing an oil extraction method known as fracking on public land in Monterey County.
The study released Thursday was conducted for the BLM by the state-created California Council on Science and Technology. It concluded the current level of fracking and other so-called well-stimulation techniques by drillers to get more oil out of rock formations did not seem to be poisoning water supplies or increasing earthquake risks in the state.
That is partly because fracking and other methods used in California differ from those in some other states, the researchers concluded.
Fracking involves extracting oil and gas from rock by injecting high-pressure mixtures of water, sand or gravel and chemicals. California drilling typically uses less water and a greater concentration of chemicals in fracking, and drilling is shallower, researchers said. California's different geology also limits the impacts of fracking, they said.
Researcher Jane Long, who led the steering committee that oversaw the study, acknowledged in a phone call with reporters that researchers had drawn their conclusions while lacking some key information.
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