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Center for Biological Diversity v. California Department of Conservation

ELR Citation: 44 ELR 20021
Nos. RG12652054, (Cal. Super. Ct., 01/13/2014)

A California court dismissed environmental groups' lawsuit against the California Department of Conservation, Division Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) for failing to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act in issuing permits for oil and gas wells that involve hydraulic fracturing. The groups alleged that instead of performing the requisite environmental review before issuing such permits, DOGGR has engaged in a "pattern and practice" of exempting oil and gas well projects or issuing negative declarations based on boilerplate findings. They therefore sought an injunction prohibiting any new permits until DOGGR provides adequate environmental review. But the state has since enacted a new law, Senate Bill 4, that directs how DOGGR must proceed regarding its environmental review of hydraulic fracturing applications. Because the new law is a "comprehensive legal solution" that provides DOGGR "clear directions to study fracking and to have regulations in place" by January 1, 2015, the lawsuit must be dismissed as moot.