Robin Seifried

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California Legislature Passes Fracking Bill

Just hours after the California Assembly voted to pass the remaining bill on hydraulic fracturing, SB 4, the California Senate voted to concur with the Assembly amendments. The next stop for the bill is the Governor's desk. Governor Brown's administration had previously indicated concern regarding the broad scope of the bill, which was amended in the Assembly to include other well stimulation activities including acid treatment. If the Governor vetos the bill, it can be overriden by a two-thirds vote in both houses, which is a strong possibility given the breakdown of the votes cast to pass the bill.… Continue Reading

California Assembly Passes Fracking Bill

Today the California Assembly passed the controversial bill regulating hydraulic fracturing, SB 4. The bill has been criticized by both industry groups and environmental organizations. Industry has argued that the bill is overbroad for including other types of well stimulation techniques, including acid well treatments, and creating a permitting scheme that subjects each decision to stimulate a new well to the California Environmental Quality Act. On the other end of the spectrum, the Center for Biological Diversity claims that only a moratorium on fracking would adequately protect the public and the environment.… Continue Reading

Judge Upholds DOGGR’s Application of UIC Fracking Exemption

Last week, a judge in Alameda County Superior Court denied the Center for Biological Diversity's motion for summary judgment in a case arguing that DOGGR is obligated to regulate hydraulic fracturing activities under the state's underground injection control (UIC) program. The Center challenged DOGGR's position that the federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 exempts fracking from the state UIC program under the Safe Drinking Water Act (see January 25, 2013, post). The judge sided with DOGGR, finding that the exemption of fracking activities from state UIC regulations was consistent with the Safe Drinking Water Act and DOGGR's interpretation should be afforded great weight unless clearly erroneous.… Continue Reading

Assembly Committee Advances Fracking Bill to the Floor

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. Since advancing to the floor, SB 4 has been amended to require the development of a reporting website and groundwater modeling criteria.… Continue Reading

Still No Agreement on Remaining Fracking Bill

The Assembly Committee on Appropriations failed to reach a decision at yesterday's hearing on SB 4 - the lone surviving bill relating to hydraulic fracturing in the California Legislature. Appropriations delayed a vote on the newly amended SB 4 for another two weeks after hearing extensive testimony on the bill. At the hearing, representatives on both sides of the issue rejected the bill. Industry representatives argued that the bill is too broad for regulating acid injection in addition to fracking. Meanwhile, environmental groups asserted that the bill is too lenient on fracking fluid disclosure requirements.… Continue Reading

BLM Announces an Environmental Assessment to Address Fracking in California

Last week, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued a notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to address hydraulic fracturing on federal lands in central California. BLM indicated that the EIS would consider the potential impacts of fracking and other well stimulation techniques associated with oil and gas leases and may result in an amendment to the resource management plan (RMP) for the Hollister Field Office.… Continue Reading

DOGGR Delays Release of Draft Fracking Rules Pending Possible Instruction from Lawmakers

At a conference in Los Angeles at the end of July, the chair of the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), Felicia Marcus, noted that the Department of Conservation's Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) is delaying the release of its draft regulations of hydraulic fracturing until after the state's legislative session. Marcus indicated that DOGGR is waiting to see whether the legislature will pass the remaining bill to regulate fracking, Senator Pavley's SB 4.… Continue Reading

Surviving Fracking Bill Amended to Include Acid Well Stimulation

The one remaining bill before the California Legislature this session that would regulate hydraulic fracturing was amended in the Assembly this week. However, the amendment did not simply remove the fracking moratorium, as promised (see June 13, 2013, post), but it also included a provision that would regulate acid well stimulation treatment. The bill, SB 4, defines "acid well stimulation treatment" as treatment that involves the application of acids to a well to stimulate production.… Continue Reading

Only One Fracking Bill Survives in the California Legislature

On Wednesday, the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources rejected one of the remaining two bills this session that would have regulated hydraulic fracturing activities. The rejected bill, AB 7, was amended on the floor at the end of May and sent back to the Natural Resources Committee. As amended, AB 7 would have required approval of proposed fracking activities, notice to property owners, regional water quality board approval of the proposed wastewater disposal, and disclosures relating to fracking fluids.… Continue Reading

California Legislature Weeds out Fracking Bills and Rejects Moratorium

The California State Legislature was busy last week amending and voting on bills relating to hydraulic fracturing, including rejection of a moratorium. The Senate passed SB 4 with Senator Pavley's announcement that she would remove the fracking moratorium provision to get the bill to the Assembly. With that change, there will be no surviving bills proposing a fracking moratorium this legislative session.… Continue Reading

Senate Committee Also Advances Fracking Bills

Yesterday, the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality advanced two bills that would increase regulation of hydraulic fracturing. The first of these bills, SB 4, would (1) impose a permit requirement specific to fracking activities and (2) prohibit fracking beginning January 1, 2015, pending the completion of a study on the impact of fracking (see April 11, 2013, post). The second bill, SB 395, would (1) subject the disposal of fracking-related water to underground injection control (UIC) regulations, from which oil and gas operations are currently exempt, and (2) effectively prohibit the disposal of fracking wastewater containing hazardous waste by injection (see April 8, 2013, post).… Continue Reading

Assembly Committee Advances Bills to Impose Fracking Moratorium

On Monday, the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources passed three separate bills that separately would each place a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing. The next stop for these bills is the Assembly Committee on Appropriations, then the bills may advance to the floor. Each of the three bills would restrict fracking activities pending a determination of whether and under what conditions fracking may be conducted without risk to human health or the environment. Two of the bills, AB 1301 and AB 1323, would prohibit fracking anywhere in the state. The third bill, AB 649, would only prohibit fracking, as well as the use of clean freshwater for fracking purposes, within a yet to be determined distance of an aquifer.… Continue Reading

Environmental Groups Challenge More BLM Leases Based on District Court’s Finding that BLM Failed to Adequately Consider the Impacts of Fracking

Less than a month after the United States District Court for the Northern District of California's decision that BLM failed to fully evaluate the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing operations in granting oil and gas leases (see April 11, 2013, post), the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club have initiated a second lawsuit challenging BLM's award of oil and gas leases for a much larger area of federal lands in California. The first suit challenged BLM's issuance of oil and gas leases for approximately 2,700 acres of land. The second suit calls into question federal leases for nearly 18,000 acres of land. Both sets of leases involve California's Monterey Shale Formation.… Continue Reading

Report Recommends More Stringent Regulation of Fracking in California

Last week, the UC Berkeley Center for Law, Energy and the Environment released a report recommending increased regulation and further study of the impacts of hydraulic fracturing activities in California on public health and the environment. The report focuses on the potential impacts to groundwater and surface water resources relating to the management of wastewater associated with fracking, but also touches on other environmental and public health issues, such as air emissions and increased demand for water in well completions.… Continue Reading

Court Finds BLM Failed to Consider the Impacts of Fracking in Granting Mineral Leases

A federal judge in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California in San Jose ruled that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) failed to fully evaluate the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing operations in granting oil and gas leases for approximately 2,700 acres of land over California's Monterey Shale Formation. The court concluded that BLM violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by unreasonably relying on a 2006 resource management plan and environmental impact statement governing management of the larger planning area encompassing the leases.… Continue Reading

California Air District Requires Fracking Notification and Disclosures

Last week, the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) adopted a rule requiring pre-notification and reporting of air emissions and chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing operations. SCAQMD regulates air quality in Orange County and major portions of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties. The rule arose from a September 2012 symposium on fracking in the South Coast Air Basin, including representatives from the government, industry and environmental groups. In addition to fracking, the rule applies to other production stimulation activities such as gravel packing and acidizing. The rule will go into effect in early June, 60 days after its adoption on April 5.… Continue Reading

Another Bill Revised to Expand Regulation of Fracking Activities

Last week, California Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson amended the bill she introduced earlier this year to further regulate the management of water produced in fracking operations. The amended bill would also shift the prior focus from regulating fracking wastewater generally as hazardous waste to the regulation of fracking wastewater disposal. Specifically, it would prohibit the injection of any wastewater containing hazardous waste.… Continue Reading

Three New California Bills Proposed to Further Regulate Fracking

Last month, California legislators introduced three bills that relate to hydraulic fracturing. On February 20, 2013, Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson introduced SB 395 to regulate water produced during fracking operations. The other two bills were introduced in the Assembly and relate to DOGGR's approval of well drilling activities. On February 11, 2013, Assembly Member Marc Levine introduced AB 288 to require fracking-specific approval. On February 22, 2013, Assembly Member Das Williams introduced AB 982 to require an agency-approved groundwater monitoring plan for fracking operations.… Continue Reading

DOGGR Schedules the Second of Three Public Workshops on its Fracking Regulations

The Department of Conservation, Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) today announced the second of three public workshops on its draft discussion regulations governing hydraulic fracturing. The agenda includes pre-fracking well testing, advance notification, monitoring, and disclosures, trade secrets and handling relating to fracking fluids.… Continue Reading
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