California Senate Committee and President Obama Act on Fracking
Last week, the California Senate’s National Resources Committee advanced a bill requiring notice to nearby property owners of planned fracking operations, and President Obama issued an Executive Order setting up an interagency working group to support safe and responsible fracking.
California law requires the operator to file a written notice of intent to commence drilling with the State Oil and Gas Supervisor or district deputy and deems the notice approved if there is no response within 10 working days from receipt. The Senate Bill (SB 1054) passed by the National Resources Committee last Tuesday amends existing law to extend the period for the State Oil and Gas Supervisor’s response to 15 working days from receipt of the notice and requires additional notice for fracking operations. The bill also requires that the well owner/operator notify property owners and occupants within a certain distance of the well, as well as property owners, occupants and water suppliers above underground waters that may be used for irrigation or domestic purposes. The notice would include the location of the well and a description of the planned operations. In its analysis, the Senate Committee noted that several other states include public notification to surface property owners as a part of the permit process for new wells, many including fracking provisions.
In related news, President Obama issued an Executive Order last Friday establishing an interagency working group to “support the safe and responsible production of domestic unconventional natural gas.” The EO instructs the working group to coordinate agency policy activities; coordinate the sharing of scientific, environmental and related technical and economic information; engage in long-term planning and ensure coordination relating to research, natural resource assessment, and infrastructure development; and promote interagency communication with stakeholders. The EO indicates that natural gas provided 25% of energy consumed in the US in 2011 and that natural gas production creates jobs, can reduce our dependence on oil, and provides a cleaner energy source (with appropriate safeguards).