Environmentalists sue state over OK of oil wells in aquifer

Published: Aug. 3, 2016 at 4:11 PM CDT
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An environmental group is suing the state for approving oil well injections into a federally protected aquifer near California's Central Coast.

The Center for Biological Diversity said in the lawsuit filed Wednesday in San Luis Obispo Superior Court that state agencies failed to assess the environmental consequences before forwarding it to federal officials for final approval.

State oil and gas regulators signed off on granting an aquifer exemption to Freeport-McMoRan Inc. that allows it to inject steam and oil production wastewater into an aquifer near Pismo Beach.

It is the first such exemption the state has supported since regulators acknowledged providing lax oversight that allowed thousands of wells to pump oilfield fluids into protected aquifers.

State officials and an oil company representative did not immediately respond to requests for comment.