With passage of Senate Bill 4 in 2013, California began regulating hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and other oil and gas well stimulation practices for the first time on January 1, 2014.
Fracking is the injection of large volumes of water, sand and chemicals at high pressure underground to crack rock formations and release oil and gas. As of January 1, oil and gas well operators may not frack or perform other well stimulation operations, such as acidizing, unless they test the groundwater, notify neighbors and disclose the chemicals used.
The California Department of Conservation has released interim rules to regulate these practices throughout 2014 as well as a first draft of the more detailed regulations designed to take effect in 2015. The emergency regulations require groundwater monitoring, notification of neighboring property owners and tenants, and disclosure of information including the location of wells, the chemicals that will be used and the source and amount of water to be used. The Department will also produce a statewide environmental impact report (EIR), and the Natural Resources Agency will release an independent scientific study of well stimulation operations and the associated risks.
The Department held public hearings throughout the state, and accepted comments on the proposed regulations and EIR. For more information, including text of the proposed regulations, visit http://www.conservation.ca.gov. More detailed information about well stimulation operations will also be posted at http://www.conservation.ca.gov/dog/Pages/WellStimulation.aspx.
A fact sheet on Senate Bill 4 is available at http://sd27.senate.ca.gov/sites/sd27.senate.ca.gov/files/SB4factsheet.pdf