On July 19, 2016, Alameda County, California (“County”) became the first county in the Bay Area to approve a ban on hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”). The County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the ban through an amendment to the Alameda County Zoning Ordinance (“Ordinance”). Gen. Ordinance Code §§ 17.06.100-17.06.400.
The Ordinance bans “high-intensity oil operations” which include fracking, steam injection, cyclic steaming, and all other forms of well stimulation. The Ordinance allows waterflooding and permits an operator to continue oil production by methods authorized under a Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (“DOGGR”) permit, if those methods are not banned. Waterflooding, a technique that includes recycling produced water to the oil reservoir, may be done only by water that is produced from the well itself. “Produced water” is water that comes to the surface through oil production and oftentimes has no beneficial reuse due to its natural characteristics. The Ordinance prohibits disposal of hydraulic fracturing fluids, drawing a distinction between produced water and fracking fluids. “High-intensity oil operations” does not include injection of produced water.
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