The Center for Biological Diversity provided a notice of intent to sue the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on August 29, 2012, alleging that the agency continues to issue oil and gas leases and drilling permits in California without first considering the risks that expanded hydraulic fracturing poses to endangered species in violation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In its notice letter, the environmental group argues that BLM has relied on outdated wildlife impact analyses—known as biological opinions— that do not reflect dangers to the California condor, San Joaquin fox, giant kangaroo rat, blunt-nosed leopard lizard, and steelhead trout associated with hydraulic fracturing.
The ESA requires the agency to reinitiate consultation with federal wildlife and marine biologists when new information reveals that ongoing oil and gas leasing and drilling activities may have effects not previously considered or the activities are modified in a way not previously considered. According to the notice letter, recent advances in hydraulic fracturing technology have created increased interest and activity in oil resources in the Monterey Shale, which runs through the San Joaquin Valley and includes areas in Fresno, Kern, Kings, and Monterey counties. The letter threatens a lawsuit unless BLM halts ongoing oil and gas leasing and drilling activities and takes steps to update biological opinions within 60 days of the letter.