Politics

California Panel Launches Probe Into Offshore Fracking

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Protestors stage a demonstration against fracking in California outside of the Hiram W. Johnson State Office Building on May 30, 2013 in San Francisco, California. Dozens of protesters with the group Californians Against Fracking staged a protest outside of California Gov. Jerry Brown's San Francisco offices demanding that Gov. Brown ban fracking in the state. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Protestors stage a demonstration against fracking in California outside of the Hiram W. Johnson State Office Building on May 30, 2013 in San Francisco. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) — California regulators are launching an investigation into offshore fracking after revelations that the practice had quietly occurred off the coast since the late 1990s.

California Coastal Commission staff member Alison Dettmer says the agency has begun looking into the extent of hydraulic fracturing in federal and state waters.

Dettmer says the potential risks are not fully known.

The practice involves pumping large amounts of sea water, sand and chemicals to break up rock formations to recover oil and gas.

A recent report by The Associated Press documented at least a dozen instances of hydraulic fracturing in the Santa Barbara Channel, site of a disastrous 1969 oil platform blowout that spurred the modern environmental movement.

The coastal panel discussed fracking Thursday during its meeting.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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