Here’s another major reminder to retailers to know their waste streams and to make sure they are being managed and handled properly.  On Monday, Kern County Superior Court Judge Sidney P. Chapin ordered Dollar General (Dolgen California) and its subsidiary corporations to pay $1.125 million as part of a settlement of a civil/environmental prosecution.  The April 17, 2017 judgment was announced by the Yolo County District Attorney, along with 31 other California District Attorneys as part of a significant civil settlement.  A harbinger of the increasingly aggressive stance local prosecutors are taking with respect to household hazardous waste disposal claims, the civil enforcement lawsuit was filed just one week prior, on April 11, 2017, in Kern County by a group of 38 of California’s 58 counties.  Dollar General operates about 13,320 stores in 43 states, including a significant number in California.
Continue Reading Retailers Beware! Dollar General Just Hit with $1.125 Million Judgment for Improper Hazardous Waste Handling and Disposal

A reported in a prior blog post, the Western States Petroleum Association (“WSPA”) sued the California Department of Conservation and the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (jointly, the “Department”) in Kern County Superior Court in January alleging that the Department’s oil field wastewater injection prohibitions violate WSPA’s members’ due process rights.  On March 20, 2017, a Kern County judge sided in favor of WSPA, granting an injunction on behalf of Plaintiffs and, separately and independently, on behalf of intervenor B.E. Conway Energy, Inc. and intervenor Sentinel Peak Resources California.  This means that the Department is currently barred from blanket enforcement of its Aquifer Exemption Compliance Schedule Regulations (“Regulations”).
Continue Reading Kern County Judge Grants Injunction, Blocking Blanket Enforcement of Oil Field Aquifer Exemption Regulations

December 31, 2016 marked a deadline for oilfield operators to comply with the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources’ (“DOGGR”) Aquifer Exemption and Compliance Schedule Regulations.  Operators were required to either cease injection of oilfield wastewater or obtain an aquifer exemption to continue injecting such wastewater.  This deadline was applicable to 11 aquifers that were historically treated as “exempt” aquifers, but have recently undergone review by DOGGR due to compliance issues with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act (“SDWA”).

For any underground injection project approved by the Division [DOGGR] for injection into one of the 11 aquifers listed in subdivision (b)(1), injection shall cease by December 31, 2016, unless and until the U.S[.] Environmental Protection Agency, subsequent to April 20, 2015, determines that the aquifer or the portion of the aquifer where injection is occurring meets the criteria for aquifer exemption.

Cal. Code Regs. tit. 14, § 1779.1(b)

Continue Reading With Time Running Out for EPA to Act, Oil & Gas Operators Grow Increasingly Anxious about Pending Aquifer Exemption Applications

On September 6, 2016, a federal Judge issued an Order finding that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) failed to take a “hard look,” as required under the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”), at the potential environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing in issuing a new Resource Management Plan (“RMP”) for the Bakersfield Field Office.  The Order directed the BLM to conduct a supplemental environmental impact statement (“EIS”) focusing on the potential impacts of fracking.   While the decision will likely affect future leasing under the new RMP, it is not a moratorium on fracking.
Continue Reading BLM Must Take a “Hard Look” at Fracking Impacts

On Thursday, December 10, environmental organizations filed a complaint against Kern County in California Superior Court alleging that the County violated the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) by preparing a “grossly inadequate” Environmental Impact Report (“EIR”) for its new oil and gas rules.  The Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, and the Natural Resources Defense Council (jointly “the Sierra Club”), along with several other local organizations, take issue with the programmatic approach of the EIR, and urge a well-by-well environmental analysis.  This lawsuit comes as no surprise to the County.  Environmental groups have a long history of opposing oil and gas development in Kern County, which produces over 70% of all the oil in California.

This lawsuit comes in reaction to a Kern County zoning ordinance amendment which harnessed broad local support.  On November 9, 2015, the Kern County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved amendments to Title 19 of the Kern County Zoning Ordinance which provides a streamline permitting process for oil and gas operations.  Notably, the new ordinance encourages oil and gas producers to work with surface owners to agree on a development plan, promoting cooperation and transparency.  The amendments also required the County to conduct an extensive environmental analysis pursuant to CEQA.  The Board of Supervisors certified the Final EIR after holding multiple public Scoping Meetings and reviewing various mitigation measures.Continue Reading Environmental Challenge Blasts Kern County Oil and Gas Rules

A new deputy district supervisor for District 4 of the Department of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources (“DOGGR”) will take the helm on May 1 of this year. Dan Wermiel – a geologist and  previously DOGGR’s technical program manager – will head the Bakersfield district office in Kern County.

As with all new leadership changes

Governor Brown is expected to sign SBX1-2, which increases California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard to 33% by 2020.  With enactment of the bill, California will have the most aggressive renewable energy policy in the country.  Details about the new legislation can be found in the Stoel Rives alert authored by Seth Hilton at: http://www.stoel.com/showalert.aspx?show=7805.

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