Category: Oil and Gas

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BLM Must Take a “Hard Look” at Fracking Impacts

On September 6, 2016, a federal Judge issued an Order finding that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) failed to take a “hard look,” as required under the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”), at the potential environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing in issuing a new Resource Management Plan (“RMP”) for the Bakersfield Field Office.  … Continue Reading

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA ENVIRONMENTAL UPDATE #2

This is the second update on environmental regulatory and legal developments in Los Angeles and adjacent counties, as well as the Southern San Joaquin Valley. We welcome your comments and feedback. South Coast Air Quality Management District: *Continued Report on New Management: Wayne Nastri, once an SCAQMD Governing Board Member, former USEPA Region IX Regional … Continue Reading

When Will They Ever Learn? CBD Files Another Questionable Lawsuit Against DOGGR

On August 3, 2016, the Center for Biological Diversity (“CBD”) filed suit against the California Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (“DOGGR”) and the State Water Resources Control Board (“Water Board”), challenging the regulators’ decision to approve an aquifer exemption for the Arroyo Grande oil field.  In its latest lawsuit against DOGGR, filed in … Continue Reading

Alameda Fracking Ban: All Bark with No Bite

On July 19, 2016, Alameda County, California (“County”) became the first county in the Bay Area to approve a ban on hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”).  The County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the ban through an amendment to the Alameda County Zoning Ordinance (“Ordinance”).  Gen. Ordinance Code §§ 17.06.100-17.06.400. The Ordinance bans “high-intensity oil operations” … Continue Reading

Proposed Oil Refinery Regulations Tackle Safety Concerns

On July 14, 2016, the California Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) announced a “landmark set of regulations to strengthen workplace and environmental safety at oil refineries across the state.”  The refinery safety rules consist of two sets of regulations:  one amending the California Occupational Safety & Health (“OSHA”) worker safety regulations as they apply to refineries, and … Continue Reading

Updated Status of Oil- and Gas-Related Bills Proposed in California’s 2015-2016 Legislative Session

June 3, 2016 was the final deadline for oil- and gas-related bills introduced in the 2015-2016 legislative session to move through their house of origin.  Below is a summary of those bills, many of which relate to natural gas storage following the Aliso Canyon natural gas well leak.  Stoel Rives is monitoring these bills and … Continue Reading

The Other Shoe Just Dropped on Methane Emissions from the Oil and Gas Industry

Not to be outdone by its federal counter-parts, the California Air Resources Board (“ARB”) released Greenhouse Gas Emission Standards for Crude Oil and Natural Gas Facilities (“proposed rule”) for methane emissions on Tuesday, May 31, following a slew of recent federal regulations targeting reduction of methane emissions.  Cal. Code Regs. tit. 14, §§ 95665-95676 (proposed).  … Continue Reading

Part the Seas: Federal Report Finds Offshore Fracking has No Significant Impact

On May 27, 2016, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (“BOEM”) and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (“BSEE”) jointly released a Programmatic Environmental Assessment (“PEA”) for well stimulation treatment activities at operations on the Outer Continental Shelf (“OCS”) of offshore California.  The agencies identified and studied the environmental impacts of 43 lease areas … Continue Reading

Status of Oil- and Gas-Related Bills Proposed in California’s 2015-2016 Legislative Session

February 19, 2016 was the deadline for lawmakers to introduce legislation to the 2015-2016 California Legislative Session, and the Legislature’s ever-growing appetite for regulating the energy industry in California shows no signs of being satiated anytime soon.  More bills than ever proposing to add new regulations on the oil and gas industry have been introduced.  … Continue Reading

California Water Webinar Series on the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA)

Earlier this week, environmental consultant Susanne Heim of Panorama Environmental and Stoel Rives water lawyer Wes Miliband hosted the second part of the California Water Webinar series about the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). In this webinar, Susanne and Wes covered implications of the recently adopted emergency regulations to amend groundwater basin boundaries, as well … Continue Reading

California Fish & Game Commission Adopts “Very, Very Low” Standard for Candidacy under California ESA

El Niño has recently brought lots of rain to California, but it’s not quite time to start loading the animals two-by-two. However, the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) did its part yesterday to save a potentially imperiled species by designating the Humboldt marten as a candidate species under the California Endangered Species Act (California … Continue Reading

No Issuance of Federal Offshore Fracking Permits Until May 2016

On January 29, 2016, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (“BOEM”) and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (“BSEE”), agencies within the federal Department of the Interior (“DOI”), agreed to put a temporary moratorium on issuance of fracking permits in the Pacific Outer Continental Shelf until environmental review is conducted.  The temporary moratorium is … Continue Reading

California Surface Water Diverters Now Required To Report Annually To The State

Taking effect earlier this month, Senate Bill 88 was approved overwhelmingly last legislative session and signed by the Governor as another effort to combat drought and water supply shortage conditions in the State of California. Senate Bill 88 – among other things – authorized the State Water Resources Control Board (“State Water Board”) to adopt … Continue Reading

Stricter Underground Gas Storage Regs are in the Works

On January 15, 2016, the Department of Conservation gave notice of an interim rulemaking package to regulate underground natural gas storage facilities.  The proposed rulemaking comes in response to the continuing gas leak at an underground gas storage facility in Aliso Canyon. Governor Brown called for the new regulations in his emergency proclamation, which included … Continue Reading

Environmental Challenge Blasts Kern County Oil and Gas Rules

On Thursday, December 10, environmental organizations filed a complaint against Kern County in California Superior Court alleging that the County violated the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) by preparing a “grossly inadequate” Environmental Impact Report (“EIR”) for its new oil and gas rules.  The Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, and the Natural Resources Defense … Continue Reading

California’s Top Oil Regulator Resigns, Ken Harris to Take his Place

On Monday, November 30, California Department of Conservation Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (“DOGGR”) Supervisor Steven Bohlen submitted his resignation to Governor Jerry Brown, less than 18 months after taking the position. A statement issued by Governor Brown reveals that Steven Bohlen will return to his position at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory … Continue Reading

Kern County Acts to Streamline Oil & Gas Permitting

In a process that took nearly three years to complete, on Monday, November 9, the Kern County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a significant change to its oil and gas regulations. The change affects Title 19 of the Kern County Zoning Ordinance and provides a streamline permitting process for oil and gas operations. The change … Continue Reading

Environmental Justice Lawsuit Accuses L.A. of Discriminatory Oil Permitting

On Friday, November 6, three environmental organizations filed suit against the City of Los Angeles in California Superior Court for the County of Los Angeles. The three groups, Youth for Environmental Justice, the Center for Biological Diversity and the South Central Youth Leadership Coalition, allege that the “City of Los Angeles has for years employed … Continue Reading

Bunn’s “Renewal Plan” will Overhaul Oil & Gas Regulation in California Starting Next Year

On October 8, the California Department of Conservation (“DOC”) released a Renewal Plan for Oil and Gas Regulation (“Renewal Plan”) to revamp its regulatory program.  The goal of the Renewal Plan is to continue the DOC’s focus on environmental protection and public health, and it will shape the DOC’s regulatory decisions for the next two … Continue Reading

California Water Commission Adopts Regulations For Changing Groundwater Basin Boundaries

On October 21, 2015, the California Water Commission (“CWC”) adopted emergency regulations formulated by the Department of Water Resources (“DWR”) that establish a process by which local agencies may seek groundwater basin boundary modifications.  The proposed regulations are the first of their kind authorizing DWR to formally consider requests by local agencies to modify groundwater … Continue Reading

Environmental Activists Attack State Water Resources Control Board Order Approving Oil Industry Wastewater Disposal Methods

On August 28, Earthjustice filed a petition with the State Water Resources Control Board (“Water Board”) seeking to overturn a Central Valley Regional Water Board (“Regional Board”) order allowing an oil and gas wastewater disposal company to maintain their ongoing waste water operations, which can employ unlined disposal pits in Kern County. Valley Water Management … Continue Reading

California Groundwater Update: Public Comments Due For Basin Boundary Regulations

As one of many implementation steps under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (“SGMA” codified as Water Code §§ 10720 et seq.), basin boundary regulations were released recently by the California Department of Water Resources (“DWR”), with a public comment deadline set for Friday, September 4. DWR is holding public meetings this week to solicit public … Continue Reading

Legislation Revamping California Groundwater Adjudications Marches Forward

AB 1390 aims in unprecedented fashion to expedite procedures and processes for groundwater adjudications, which, in California, are known to take one or two decades before reaching a final judgment. The bill would add various provisions to the California Code of Civil Procedure that would be codified as Sections 830 through 849. AB 1390 was … Continue Reading

California DWR’s New Groundwater Basin Regulations for SGMA

With the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (“SGMA”) taking effect on January 1, 2015, the California Department of Water Resources (“DWR”) is in full swing of holding public workshops and information sessions to solicit input from stakeholders and other members of the public as well as to answer questions regarding SGMA’s various milestone requirements. On July … Continue Reading
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