California Assemblymember Das Williams (D-Carpinteria) has introduced an oil and gas bill to ensure that the state comes into compliance with the Class II underground injection (“UIC”) requirements under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act (“SDWA”). According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“USEPA”), California is currently out of compliance with certain requirements for some Class II injection wells (oil and gas wastewater disposal wells) because fluid from these wells is being injected into non-exempt aquifers, which is prohibited. Assembly Bill 356 (“AB 356”) was introduced on February 17, 2015 following publication of a letter from the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (“DOGGR”) to the USEPA addressing California’s Class II UIC program.
The bill authorizes the DOGGR Supervisor to require operators to implement a groundwater monitoring program for underground oil production tanks, facilities, and disposal and injection wells. In addition, AB 356 would require operators to submit this monitoring plan, with a schedule for monitoring and reporting groundwater quality data, to the local regional water quality control board. Data would then be submitted to the State Water Resources Control Board for inclusion in the geotracker database. The purpose of the bill is to protect underground drinking water sources from potential contamination arising from oil and gas operations.
Senate Bill 4 already requires groundwater monitoring for production wells that receive stimulation treatments. According to a press release published on Assemblymember Williams’ website, “AB 356 would mirror and build on the SB 4 program to protect the aquifers that may be impacted by injection wells.” AB 356 may be heard in Committee on March 20. We will continue monitoring the bill and give regular updates on our blog.