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By John Light. January 10, 2015

We don’t know nearly enough about the fracking that’s already going on in the U.S. — that’s the point of two lawsuits filed this past week by environmental advocates against the federal government.

In the first suit, an environmental group is suing the feds to get more information about hydraulic fracturing happening off U.S. coastlines, an increasingly common practice that hasn’t yet sparked the same public debate that fracking on land has. In the second, a coalition of nine groups is suing the EPA to force companies to release information about toxic chemicals used in the fracking process.

Fracking allows drillers to get at hard-to-reach oilfields that weren’t readily accessible before, especially offshore. Many underwater areas that were considered tapped out are now looking potentially profitable once again. The Gulf of Mexico appears especially lucrative — Heather Smith wrote recently for Grist that drillers are viewing it as a “giant, underwater piggybank.”

But, as this gold rush begins, environmentalists are pointing out that we know very little about the risks involved with projects like these. And, in the past, when we’ve lacked knowledge about the dangers of risky offshore drilling operations, bad things have happened. (See: Deepwater Horizon.)

Read the full articile on Grist at