Today the California Assembly passed a controversial bill regulating hydraulic fracturing, SB 4. The bill has been criticized by both industry groups and environmental organizations. Industry argues 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.
As discussed in more detail in previous blog posts, most recently on September 3, 2013, SB 4 would require owners or operators to obtain a permit before stimulating a well. The bill originally included a fracking moratorium but this provision was removed in conjunction with its passage in the Senate. After amendments in the Assembly, the bill would require the Department of Conservation, Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) to develop a website for public disclosure of fracking fluid contents and the State Water Resources Board to develop comprehensive groundwater monitoring criteria for stimulated wells.
SB 4 would impose more stringent requirements on well stimulation activities than the current draft of the DOGGR rules on fracking. See the August 8, 2013, post for more on the DOGGR rules.
Now, SB 4 heads back to the Senate for a vote on the Assembly amendments by the end of the week.