In response to the revelation that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is taking place off the California coast, and the Santa Barbara County coastline in particular, state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, has written a letter to the California Coastal Commission, asking it to take an active role in reviewing — and potentially blocking — federally issued permits for offshore fracking.

The letter, which is signed by Jackson and five other legislators from coastal areas, calls on the Coastal Commission to exercise its jurisdiction and review all previously approved and future federal fracking permits for their impact on “human health and safety, marine life and water quality.”

The letter notes that such review is justified given that permits were originally authorized for oil and gas extraction, but not hydraulic fracturing specifically. The letter states, “These new technologies and chemical compounds differ greatly from the process and materials that were originally authorized for oil and gas extraction.”

“Fracking has been exempted from virtually any oversight in California. We don’t know enough about where fracking is happening, how it happening, and what its impacts are on our public health,” Jackson said. “The recent revelation by the media that fracking is taking place off our coastline in sensitive coastal waters has only added to the urgency of taking action. We think the Coastal Commission has a vital role to play in determining whether offshore fracking is in the best interests of our coastline, our water quality, our wildlife and our coastal tourism, and we look forward to working with them on this effort.”

Earlier this week, Jackson was among a group of state legislators who also signed on to a letter to the U.S. Department of Interior and Environmental Protection Agency asking for an investigation into offshore fracking.

“Given the potential hazards that fracking poses, it’s important that we pursue every avenue we can to protect Californians and our environment,” Jackson said. “I do believe that, working through the Coastal Commission, we have the ability at the state level to impact change for the better.”

The letter is signed by Sens. Jackson, Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, Bill Monning, D-Carmel, and Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills and Assemblymen Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara, and Mark Stone, D-Scotts Valley.

— Lisa Gardiner is the communications director for state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson.