Federal regulators say hydraulic fracturing in California poses little environmental or health risk, clearing the way for oil companies to employ the practice in the Golden State.
A report released by the Bureau of Land Management found "little scientific evidence that fracking and similar extraction techniques are dangerous," the Los Angeles Times reported on Thursday.
Supporters of fracking, as the innovative oil and gas extraction technique is commonly known, welcomed the news, but critics said the study’s "data gaps" compromised its findings.
The Bureau of Land Management said the report — and additional environmental reviews — will allow it to begin leasing on public land next year. The announcement is welcome news for energy companies that have been shut out of the oil-rich San Joaquin Valley and Central Coast.
But critics, including environmental organizations whose lawsuits led to a judge's order to halt leasing last year, said the analysis was rushed by the BLM and relied on spotty information.
The report’s findings come as opponents of fracking in the United States, including the American propaganda arm of the Russian government, are waging an intense public relations battle against the practice.
While numerous studies have found it to be safe, environmentalists and foreign governments have enlisted the services of A-list celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio to promote their efforts.