As an update to our prior blog post, on January 17, 2017, the California Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (“DOGGR”) released a letter sent to notify the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) of California’s progress toward compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act. DOGGR stated that it will allow oil field wastewater injection to continue in aquifers in 29 fields (covering approximately 1,650 wells), pending U.S. EPA approval. After a thorough review, DOGGR estimates that 80% of the aquifer applications currently under review qualify as exempt aquifers and should be approved by U.S. EPA as such. The remaining 20% of wells in the areas under review will be subject to shut-in on February 15, pending completion of the regulatory agencies’ formal review. We will continue to monitor the situation as the February 15 deadline draws near.
Updated January 30, 2017
On January 25, 2017, the U.S. EPA, Region IX, issued a response letter to DOGGR. The U.S. EPA stated that they “generally concur with the approach outlined in your [DOGGR’s] recent letter.” However, the U.S. EPA requested that DOGGR provide more details of its current analysis regarding aquifer exemption proposals that may not meet the February 15, 2017 deadline, including the basis for the potential exempt status and the anticipated timeline for DOGGR’s concurrence on exemption. Stay tuned for future updates.