On Wednesday, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) confirmed that it approved three fracking plans on a platform roughly nine miles off the California shore in the Santa Barbara Channel. The BSEE, which is under the Department of the Interior, is the federal agency charged with regulating offshore drilling more than three miles off the coast. This confirmation of three approved plans comes after the Associated Press discovered through a Freedom of Information Act request that BSEE approved another project last March.
The three BSEE-approved fracking plans are for the company DCOR, LLC, which operates some nine platforms off the California coast, according to the BSEE website. Work on the three new projects has not yet begun, and it is uncertain when it will.
Meanwhile, the California Coastal Commission is trying to exercise greater oversight over coastal fracking. Although the Coastal Commission does not have jurisdiction to regulate federal waters, it maintains that it has a role to play if it determines that drilling activity presents a threat to water quality closer to shore. In connection with its announcement, the BSEE sent a February 11, 2014 letter to the California Coastal Commission explaining that "BSEE closely examines each drilling permit that is submitted to the bureau, and a team of subject matter experts examines all proposed activities for safety, environmental, geohazard and other concerns." The letter also noted that BSEE staff would "continue to work with [California Coastal] Commission staff to share information and ensure that there is a full understanding of the issues and developments in this and other areas."
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