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Protestors stage a demonstration against fracking in California outside of the Hiram W. Johnson State Office Building on May 30, 2013 in San Francisco, California.
Federal land managers will launch two new studies about the risks of using hydraulic fracturing to produce oil and gas in California.
Fracking, as it’s called, injects pressurized water, chemicals, and grit into deep layers of rock to force oil and gas to the surface. The Bureau of Land Management is starting an environmental impact analysis of the practice in Monterey, San Benito and Fresno counties.
The environmental impact study, to be conducted out of the BLM's Hollister field office, will cover leasing potential and risks for 280,000 acres of public lands and another 440,000 acres of split-estate lands.
Some oil companies are aggressively pursuing fracking in the Monterey Shale in central California. Two environmental groups -- the Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity -- sued the BLM earlier this year when it considered selling leases in that region without doing a study. Now those groups say they’re pleased with this first step.
The BLM is also launching an independent scientific assessment of the hazards fracking might pose throughout the state.