Just hours after the California Assembly voted to pass the remaining bill on hydraulic fracturing, SB 4, the California Senate voted to concur with the Assembly amendments. The next stop for the bill is the Governor’s desk. Governor Brown’s administration had previously indicated concern regarding the broad scope of the bill, which was amended in the Assembly to include other well stimulation activities including acid treatment. If the Governor vetos the bill, it can be overriden by a two-thirds vote in both houses, which is a strong possibility given the breakdown of the votes cast to pass the bill.
Continue Reading California Legislature Passes Fracking Bill

Today the California Assembly passed the controversial bill regulating hydraulic fracturing, SB 4. The bill has been criticized by both industry groups and environmental organizations. Industry has argued that the bill is overbroad for including other types of well stimulation techniques, including acid well treatments, and creating a permitting scheme that subjects each decision to stimulate a new well to the California Environmental Quality Act. On the other end of the spectrum, the Center for Biological Diversity claims that only a moratorium on fracking would adequately protect the public and the environment.
Continue Reading California Assembly Passes Fracking Bill

Last week, a judge in Alameda County Superior Court denied the Center for Biological Diversity’s motion for summary judgment in a case arguing that DOGGR is obligated to regulate hydraulic fracturing activities under the state’s underground injection control (UIC) program. The Center challenged DOGGR’s position that the federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 exempts fracking from the state UIC program under the Safe Drinking Water Act (see January 25, 2013, post). The judge sided with DOGGR, finding that the exemption of fracking activities from state UIC regulations was consistent with the Safe Drinking Water Act and DOGGR’s interpretation should be afforded great weight unless clearly erroneous.
Continue Reading Judge Upholds DOGGR’s Application of UIC Fracking Exemption

At the end of last week, the Assembly Committee on Appropriations advanced the remaining bill regarding hydraulic fracturing, SB 4, to the Assembly Floor. After delaying the first scheduled vote on the bill, Appropriations advanced the bill without amendment. Since advancing to the floor, SB 4 has been amended to require the development of a reporting website and groundwater modeling criteria.
Continue Reading Assembly Committee Advances Fracking Bill to the Floor

The Assembly Committee on Appropriations failed to reach a decision at yesterday’s hearing on SB 4 – the lone surviving bill relating to hydraulic fracturing in the California Legislature. Appropriations delayed a vote on the newly amended SB 4 for another two weeks after hearing extensive testimony on the bill. At the hearing, representatives on both sides of the issue rejected the bill. Industry representatives argued that the bill is too broad for regulating acid injection in addition to fracking. Meanwhile, environmental groups asserted that the bill is too lenient on fracking fluid disclosure requirements.
Continue Reading Still No Agreement on Remaining Fracking Bill

Last week, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued a notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to address hydraulic fracturing on federal lands in central California. BLM indicated that the EIS would consider the potential impacts of fracking and other well stimulation techniques associated with oil and gas leases and may result in an amendment to the resource management plan (RMP) for the Hollister Field Office.
Continue Reading BLM Announces an Environmental Assessment to Address Fracking in California

At a conference in Los Angeles at the end of July, the chair of the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), Felicia Marcus, noted that the Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) is delaying the release of its draft regulations of hydraulic fracturing until after the state’s legislative session. Marcus indicated that DOGGR is waiting to see whether the legislature will pass the remaining bill to regulate fracking, Senator Pavley’s SB 4.
Continue Reading DOGGR Delays Release of Draft Fracking Rules Pending Possible Instruction from Lawmakers

On July 29 and 30, Stoel Rives attorney Mike Mills and I will speak at a conference on Hydraulic Fracturing in California. The conference will take place at the DoubleTree Guest Suites Santa Monica Hotel in Santa Monica, CA. Click here for more information about the conference and registration.
Continue Reading Stoel Rives Attorneys to Speak at Conference on Hydraulic Fracturing and Environmental Regulation in California

The one remaining bill before the California Legislature this session that would regulate hydraulic fracturing was amended in the Assembly this week. However, the amendment did not simply remove the fracking moratorium, as promised (see June 13, 2013, post), but it also included a provision that would regulate acid well stimulation treatment. The bill, SB 4, defines “acid well stimulation treatment” as treatment that involves the application of acids to a well to stimulate production.
Continue Reading Surviving Fracking Bill Amended to Include Acid Well Stimulation

On Wednesday, the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources rejected one of the remaining two bills this session that would have regulated hydraulic fracturing activities. The rejected bill, AB 7, was amended on the floor at the end of May and sent back to the Natural Resources Committee. As amended, AB 7 would have required approval of proposed fracking activities, notice to property owners, regional water quality board approval of the proposed wastewater disposal, and disclosures relating to fracking fluids.
Continue Reading Only One Fracking Bill Survives in the California Legislature

The California State Legislature was busy last week amending and voting on bills relating to hydraulic fracturing, including rejection of a moratorium. The Senate passed SB 4 with Senator Pavley’s announcement that she would remove the fracking moratorium provision to get the bill to the Assembly. With that change, there will be no surviving bills proposing a fracking moratorium this legislative session.
Continue Reading California Legislature Weeds out Fracking Bills and Rejects Moratorium