The California Geologic Energy Management Division (“CalGEM”), formerly known as the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (“DOGGR”), is actively working on revising its regulations to better align its regulatory mandates with the new goals of Assembly Bill 1057, which requires CalGEM to focus on protecting public health and the environment, and less on efficient and effective oil and gas production. The scope and extent of these regulatory changes may have far-reaching consequences for the oil and gas industry in California. As part of its pre-rulemaking process, CalGEM is hosting community workshops and accepting public comments regarding its proposed regulatory changes.
I. WHY IS CALGEM HOSTING WORKSHOPS?
While CalGEM’s materials on its pre-rulemaking process do not explain the exact nature or effect of these workshops, CalGEM’s workshops align with its new focus and November 2019 announcement of new oil and gas initiatives. Effective January 1, 2020, Assembly Bill 1057 changed DOGGR’s name to CalGEM and updated CalGEM’s focus from development and production of petroleum resources to transitioning to a low-carbon future and protecting public health, safety and the environment. In addition, last November CalGEM released a series of initiatives targeting certain oil and gas extraction methods, intended to safeguard public health and the environment. The November initiatives include:
- Imposing a moratorium on new oil extraction wells that use high-pressure steam to break oil formations below the ground;
- Announcing new rules for public health and safety protections near oil and gas extraction facilities would be updated and strengthened; and
- Completing an independent audit of CalGEM’s permitting processes for well stimulation and underground injection control and a scientific review of pending well stimulation permits to ensure public health, safety and environmental protections are met prior to approving each permit.
These initiatives are in line with the State of California’s overall climate goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2045. California intends to meet this goal, in part, by decreasing fossil fuel dependence and consumption.
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