CEO denies fracking will harm endangered belugas

The Associated Press

The Latest on an environmental group's contention that hydraulic fracturing under Alaska's Cook Inlet will harm endangered beluga whales.

In this Oct. 9, 2009, file photo, Kathy Butek with the Alaska Veterinary Pathology Service, center right in yellow, and a group of volunteers examine a dead Beluga whale found laying on the mud flats near downtown Anchorage, Alaska. A national environmental group, the Center for Biological Diversity, has asked the National Marine Fisheries Service to block plans in Cook Inlet by an oil company for hydraulic fracturing, the extraction of oil and gas from rock by injecting high-pressure mixtures of water, sand or gravel and chemicals, because of possible harmful effects on endangered belugas. (AP Photo/Al Grillo, File)

 

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Latest on an environmental group's contention that hydraulic fracturing under Alaska's Cook Inlet will harm endangered beluga whales:

1:15 p.m.

The chief executive officer of a Texas company that plans to drill below Alaska's Cook Inlet says there's no threat to endangered beluga whales from proposed hydraulic fracturing.

Benjamin Johnson of Fort Worth-based BlueCrest Energy says he doesn't even consider the company's plans to be offshore drilling.

Johnson says the company will drill about four miles horizontally from a well on shore to reach oil deposits. He says drilling 7,000 feet below the ocean bottom presents no danger to belugas from chemical leaks, noise or earthquakes.

Johnson responded to a letter sent Wednesday by the Center for Biological Diversity to the National Marine Fisheries Service.

The environmental group wants the agency to block BlueCrest's plans for fracking, the extraction of oil from rock through injection of high-pressure mixtures of water, sand and chemicals.

___

8:45 a.m.

A national environmental group is asking federal fisheries officials to block a drilling company's plans for offshore hydraulic fracturing in Alaska's Cook Inlet.

The Center for Biological Diversity says fracking by BlueCrest Energy will threaten endangered beluga whales.

The group says no hydraulic fracturing by the Fort Worth, Texas-based company should be allowed unless there's additional environmental review.

Hydraulic fracturing is the extraction of oil and gas from rock through injection of high-pressure mixtures of water, sand and chemicals.

Center for Biological Diversity attorney Kristen Monsell says fracking increases risks of spills, earthquakes and toxic pollutants to belugas.

She says BlueCrest Energy plans to drill horizontally from shore. A message left with BlueCrest CEO Benjamin Johnson was not immediately returned.

National Marine Fisheries Service spokeswoman Julie Speegle says the letter has not been reviewed.

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