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Oil companies frack in coastal waters off Calif.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Companies prospecting for oil off California's coast have used hydraulic fracturing on at least a dozen occasions to force open cracks beneath the seabed.

Federal documents released by the government to The Associated Press show regulators have permitted fracking in the Pacific Ocean at least 12 times since the late 1990s, and have recently approved a new project. Now regulators are investigating whether the practice should require a separate permit and be subject to stricter environmental review.

The targets are the vast oil fields in the Santa Barbara Channel, site of a 1969 spill that spewed more than 3 million gallons of crude oil into the ocean, spoiled miles of beaches and killed thousands of birds and other wildlife. The disaster prompted a moratorium on new drill leases.


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