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. 

Acid well stimulation is a practice that is common in California and in particular within the Monterey shale formation, which is estimated to have the potential to significantly increase oil production in the State.  In conjunction with the amendment, California legislators explained that they wanted more information about the use of acid well stimulation.  The expansion of the bill to include this technique will certainly increase controversy over the bill and perhaps even the “discussion draft” of fracking regulations being promulgated by the Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources, and which does not currently cover acid well stimulation.

Not only does the amendment extend the impact of the bill, but it also complicates its journey to enactment.  Because the bill was amended in the Assembly, it would have to return to the Senate for concurrence before it goes to the Governor.

Co-authored by Michael N. Mills and Robin B. Seifried.