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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published a new rule requiring fracking companies drilling for oil and gas offshore Southern California to report any chemical discharges in the ocean, the Associated Press reported last week.

The rule, which comes into force on March 1, follows a series of reports on chemical discharges from offshore fracking wells and the potential environmental concerns associated with these incidents. According to The Associated Press, there were at least 200 fracking wells in the waters within California's jurisdiction last year, but very little is being done to oversee drilling practices. The new regulation will apply only to new drilling activities on about 20 platforms situated in federal waters close to the Santa Barbara coast.

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The oil and gas industry claims that fracking does not harm the environment onshore or offshore, but, as most public attention is focused on drilling on land close to residential areas, very little is known about the effect of fracking in the ocean.

Meanwhile, state officials have been working on rules that require oil and gas companies to test groundwater and to inform landowners before starting any fracking work or other well-related activities. Fracking companies will also be required to apply for a permit before they start drilling and will have to disclose the chemicals they use during oil and gas extraction. These rules, however, will not be implemented until 2015.