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California Releases Proposed Fracking Regulations; Formal Rulemaking Process Begins

November 15, 2013 by Eric Adair in News with 0 Comments

Today, the California Department of Conservation (DOC) and its Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) released the text of proposed regulations (pdf) that will govern the practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the state. The release of the proposed regulations formally commences the rulemaking process (see our post here), and was accompanied by a notice of proposed rulemaking action (pdf).

The proposed regulations expand on the “discussion draft” regulations released in December 2012. (See our post here.) The regulations follow California’s recent enactment of SB 4, which provides a comprehensive regulatory framework for well stimulation and extends beyond the parameters of last December’s discussion draft. Among other things, SB 4 requires that DOGGR address not merely fracking, but also acid fracturing and acid matrix stimulation. SB 4 also creates a permitting scheme for well stimulation activities, requires the preparation of an environmental impact report, and mandates the completion of an independent scientific study on well stimulation treatment.

The notice of proposed rulemaking states that the proposed regulations “are intended to supplement the Division’s current oil and gas regulatory framework with regulations specific to well stimulation treatment to meet the mandates of SB 4. . . . The proposed regulations satisfy the goals and requirements of SB 4 by implementing express statutory requirements regarding well stimulation permits, public disclosure, neighbor notification, and water well testing.” The notice summarizes the objectives of the proposed regulations as follows:

  • The proposed regulations address pressure testing and specified evaluation of the well and the geology near the well prior to the well stimulation treatment to ensure that the well stimulation treatment will not damage the well, and that the well stimulation fluids will be confined to the intended zone.
  • The proposed regulations address monitoring that operators must complete during and after a well stimulation treatment.
  • The proposed regulations address storage and handling of well stimulation fluids, including storage of fluid in containers.
  • The proposed regulations address reporting by establishing the procedures by which operators submit specified information during and after the well stimulation treatment has been completed.
  • The proposed regulations address the procedure by which an operator may request a review and authorization for multiple well stimulation treatment permit applications or notices of intent to drill or rework a well.
  • The proposed regulations address the difference between well stimulation and underground injection projects.
  • The proposed regulations address the specified acid concentration threshold at which the regulations are applicable; the point at which well stimulation treatment begins and ends, for purposes of the regulations; and the distinction between well stimulation treatment requirements, and underground injection project requirements.

We will review the proposed regulations in greater detail and provide a thorough analysis shortly.

Today’s announcement opens the period for public comment. Comments may be submitted by email to DOGGRRegulations [at] conservation.ca.gov, by facsimile to 916-324-0948, or by mail to Department of Conservation, 801 K Street, MS 24-02, Sacramento, CA 95814, ATTN: Well Stimulation Regulations. The written comment period closes at 5:00 p.m. on January 14, 2014.

DOC and DOGGR also announced a series of public meetings to allow further comments on the proposed regulations, as follows:

  • Sacramento – January 6, 3:00pm – 7:00pm. Sierra Hearing Room, Cal/EPA Building, 1001 I Street, 2nd Floor.
  • Long Beach – January 6, 3:00pm – 7:00pm. California State University Auditorium, 1212 Bellflower Boulevard.
  • Salinas – January 8, 3:00pm – 7:00pm. National Steinbeck Center, One Main Street.
  • Bakersfield – January 8, 3:00pm – 7:00pm. Kern County Administrative Center, First Floor Board Chambers, 1115 Truxtun Avenue.
  • Santa Maria – January 13, 3:00pm – 7:00pm. Santa Barbara County Supervisors Hearing Room, 511 East Lakeside Parkway.

For more information regarding California fracking issues, please contact Eric Adair. Follow Eric on Twitter:

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