California regulators are investigating revelations that hydraulic fracturing has quietly taken place off the coast for the past two decades.

“We take our obligation to protect the marine environment very seriously,” the California Coastal Commission executive director, Charles Lester, who said Thursday that regulators will examine the extent of fracking in all waters and the risks. As a first step, the commission will ask oil companies proposing new offshore drilling whether they will be fracking and will require them to submit an environmental review. The commission, which is supposed to protect shoreline and marine resources, said it was not aware until recently that fracking was occurring, mainly because of the complicated web of agencies involved.

Recent news reports documented a dozen instances of fracking since the late 1990s in the Santa Barbara Channel, site of a disastrous 1969 oil platform blowout that helped give rise to the modern environmental movement.

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