At the end of last week, the Assembly Committee on Appropriations advanced the remaining bill regarding hydraulic fracturing, SB 4, to the Assembly Floor. After delaying the first scheduled vote on the bill, Appropriations advanced the bill without amendment. This is surprising given the pushback from Governor Brown’s administration, lawmakers and industry regarding the late addition of acid well stimulation treatments to the scope of the bill. Originally drafting the bill to regulate only fracking, Senator Fran Pavley added acid well stimulation to SB 4 after it passed in the Senate. The failure to remove acid well stimulation from the scope of the bill may prove fatal on the Floor or ultimately provoke the Governor to veto the bill if it passes the Legislature.
Since advancing to the floor, SB 4 has been amended to require the development of a reporting website and groundwater modeling criteria. This is a change from the prior version, which allowed the use of an alternative website such as FracFocus for public disclosure. The amended bill would also require the State Water Resources Control Board to develop groundwater modeling criteria for wells subject to fracking or acid well stimulation that penetrate groundwater with a beneficial use.