- Associated Press - Thursday, May 7, 2015

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - California environmental groups filed a lawsuit Thursday against state oil and gas regulators seeking to halt illegal oil-industry dumping into drinking-water aquifers.

The lawsuit was filed in a Northern California court by Earthjustice on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity and Sierra Club.

California’s oil and gas regulators have acknowledged they mistakenly gave oil companies thousands of permits to dump fluid into federally protected underground water supplies.

The two environmental groups say the state’s plan for stopping the contamination is moving too slowly. They sued to order immediate state action stopping the discharges into aquifers.

State Oil and Gas Supervisor Steven Bohlen declined to comment on the litigation. Bohlen did say that the state and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency “are moving aggressively and quickly to test all wells that risk harming sources of water for drinking and agriculture.”

Catherine Reheis-Boyd, president of Western States Petroleum Association, said California and the EPA have collaborated on a comprehensive work plan for underground injection and that the lawsuit “is an attempt to thwart the regulatory process.”

“The experts at those agencies, with the cooperation of oil producers, have made a careful evaluation of the situation and developed the action plan to address it,” she said.

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