Hydraulic Fracturing/Well Stimulation Draft Regulations

On September 20, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 4, authored by Senator Pavley. The California Department of Conservation and its Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources have begun the process of implementing those portions of the bill directed to the Department and Division. The draft regulations will benefit from regulatory development that has been in progress at the Department for the last 12 months. In addition to provisions for well integrity testing and monitoring, the regulations will address public disclosure and the other provisions of SB 4. That bill sets a deadline of January 1, 2015 for completion of the regulations, which the Department is well prepared to meet. The new regulations will complement existing rules that require some of the strongest well construction and operation standards in the nation.

Release of the official draft regulations is likely before the end of the year, and the public will have the opportunity to comment. A notice of proposed rulemaking action will be emailed to everyone who has subscribed to the Listserv, emailed to everyone who has requested paper notice, and will be posted on the Department and Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources Web sites. There will also be a notice published in the California Regulatory Notice Register. The notice of proposed rulemaking action will specify the length of the public comment period, where to mail/email comments, when and where public comment hearings will be conducted, and who to contact for questions about the rulemaking.

For additional details about the many important requirements involved in the rulemaking process, please click here.

SB 4 also requires an independent scientific study of well stimulation techniques, including hydraulic fracturing and acid matrix stimulation. The Department is proceeding with scoping and developing the study to raise the level of information available about well stimulation techniques. Additionally, the Department is beginning the process of conducting the environmental review directed by SB 4. That environmental review will comply with the noticing and comment periods established by the California Environmental Quality Act.

In addition to provisions for public disclosure and well integrity testing and monitoring, the regulations will address trade secrecy, interagency coordination and the other provisions of SB 4.

In a separate action, the California State Water Resources Control Board is developing criteria for regional groundwater quality testing and will adopt regulations to ensure groundwater protection in accordance with SB 4.

To view the Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources page on Hydraulic Facturing in California, please click here.

This Regulatory Alert was prepared by InterAct, an Acteon company, to advise our clients of impending deadlines and applicable regulatory requirements. No official agency policy is implied.

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