Yesterday, the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality advanced two bills that would increase regulation of hydraulic fracturing. The first of these bills, SB 4, would (1) impose a permit requirement specific to fracking activities and (2) prohibit fracking beginning January 1, 2015, pending the completion of a study on the impact of fracking (see April 11, 2013, post). The second bill, SB 395, would (1) subject the disposal of fracking-related water to underground injection control regulations, from which oil and gas operations are currently exempt, and (2) effectively prohibit the disposal of fracking wastewater containing hazardous waste by injection (see April 8, 2013, post). Both bills were referred to the Committee on Appropriations, from which they may advance to the Senate floor.

If SB 4 passes in the Senate, it will compete with three Assembly bills proposing fracking moratoriums. The Assembly Committee on Natural Resources also advanced those three bills this week (see May 1, 2013, post). SB 4 is the least restrictive of the proposed bills, allowing fracking activities to continue at least until 2015, while the Assembly bills would each prohibit fracking immediately.