Update: September 26, 2016
On September 21, 2016, the Honorable George C. Hernandez, Jr. issued the final Statement of Decision, which affirmed the tentative decision denying all claims for relief. The court denied CBD’s petition for writ of mandate.
Original Post: August 22, 2016
As reported in a previous blog post, Earthjustice, on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity (“CBD”), filed a lawsuit against the California Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (“DOGGR”) in May 2015. The lawsuit attacked DOGGR’s emergency rulemaking for aquifer exemption compliance. Not surprisingly, like all of CBD’s spurious lawsuits attacking DOGGR for implementing its regulatory duties, on August 2, 2016, an Alameda County Superior Court judge issued a tentative ruling denying CBD’s petition for writ of mandate. This is another setback for CBD’s litigation strategy of impeding DOGGR in order to cripple the oil and gas industry.
DOGGR issued the emergency rules in response to a letter from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that addressed California’s compliance with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act (“SDWA”) and the Class II Underground Injection Control (“UIC”) program. Following DOGGR’s issuance of the emergency rules, the EPA stated “[t]he State’s emergency regulations to codify deadlines for injection well operators to cease injection, absent EPA-approved aquifer exemptions, is a critical step in the State’s plan to return the California Class II UIC program to compliance with the SDWA.” In other words, California regulators were doing what they were supposed to do under the law.