Hinson Gravelle & Adair LLP attorney Eric Adair was featured in a July 13, 2012, story in the Pacific Coast Business Times. The interview of Mr. Adair, conducted by legal reporter Stephen Nellis, addressed the legal and environmental impacts of the practice of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” in California. With permission from the Business Times, the text of the story is reprinted below. A full reprint of the article may be found here (pdf).
* * * * * *
Oil attorney joins Westlake Village firm as fracking debate heats up
By Stephen Nellis on July 13, 2012.
With hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” making headlines around the state, one of the best legal minds on the subject has joined a Westlake Village firm.
K. Eric Adair has come aboard at Hinson & Gravelle, which is now known as Hinson Gravelle & Adair. He is a veteran litigator with more than two decades of experience in federal and California courts, mostly in the environmental space.
Adair spent much of his career at Texaco and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in Los Angeles. In fact, it was Wayne Hinson who interviewed him for his job at Texaco, and later Adair who interviewed Gravelle for a job at Texaco.
Fracking – the practice of injecting fluid into the ground to break up oil-bearing rock so that the oil flows from it more easily – generated national attention for its practice in the Eastern U.S., where major litigation has arisen. Adair told the Business Times that in California, the legal concerns over the practice are more closely related to legislation than litigation. “Hydraulic fracturing has been around for 50 years actively practiced in California,” he said. “It is not a novel oil and gas recovery technique.”
Here, state lawmakers are considering three bills that would affect the practice. One, AB 591, would require oil companies to disclose exactly what is in their fracking fluid, a point of contention because the companies say the exact mix of the solvent cocktails are trade secrets. Another Senate bill, which appears to have died in committee, would require landowner notification of fracking. And a final assembly bill would put a moratorium on the practice until state regulators wrap up public input meetings, one of which was slated for July 11 in Santa Maria, and write new rules.
Adair describes himself as neutral in the debate over fracking and expects that oil companies will eventually accept most of the disclosure requirements. He also suspects that oil and gas will be able to get along with agriculture in places like North Santa Barbara County, where the two industries account for many jobs.
“Oil and gas and agriculture have coexisted in California for many decades. The recent attention given to agriculture and given to fracking won’t change any of that,” he said.