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Bureau of Land Management moves forward with California fracking plan

On April 25, 2019, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released a new draft report supplementing its previous reports proposing new oil and gas development near Bakersfield, California. If finalized, the agency’s plan will entail drilling more than 100-400 wells per year on 400,000 acres of public land and 1.2 million acres of federal mineral estate.… Continue Reading

Berkeley Lab researchers quell frackquake fears, FEMA discusses induced seismicity

On July 9 the California Council on Science and Technology in collaboration with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, released an expanded independent scientific report on hydraulic fracturing discussing anthropogenic earthquakes. Berkeley Lab researchers found “no recorded cases of induced seismicity” in California. The report concludes that to date there have been no known seismic events linked to disposal of produced water by underground injection in California.

The findings were part of a wide-ranging research study of hydraulic fracturing commissioned by the California legislature after passage of SB 4, the state’s first fracking regulatory legislation that became effective in 2013. The … Continue Reading

California Governor asked to impose fracking moratorium

Thus far, California has rebuffed attempts at instituting a statewide ban on hydraulic fracturing. In fact, several localities in California have also rejected fracking bans. Nonetheless, on Thursday, several environmental groups petitioned California Governor Edmund G. Brown to impose an immediate moratorium on hydraulic fracturing and other methods of well stimulation in the state.

The petitioners claimed that such an action was necessary to protect the public from an imminent threat to its health and safety. According to the petitioners, fracking causes pollution, contaminates aquifers, relies on harmful chemicals, and increases the likelihood of earthquakes. The petitioners also blame hydraulic … Continue Reading

Los Angeles well stimulation ban questioned

Earlier this year, the Los Angeles City Council passed a motion to ban any oil and gas well stimulation or the use of wells for waste disposal injection. After passing the motion, the City Council authorized the city attorney to write the ordinance with the assistance of the Department of City Planning (DCP).

Similar to other proposed drilling bans, however, the implementation process for the prohibition has not gone smoothly. In fact, the DCP has advised the City Council against prohibiting oil and gas operations. According to the DCP, the City Council should hire an expert and merely update the … Continue Reading

Fracking bans may thrust California localities into contentious legal battle

On November 4th, Denton became the first city in Texas to enact a ban against hydraulic fracturing. The next day, several members of the oil and gas industry and the state of Texas sued Denton, alleging that the ban was invalid. It is possible that other parties are also planning on suing Denton over the fracking ban. Mendocino and San Benito counties may be following in Denton’s footsteps.

Mendocino and San Benito counties passed legislation on November 4th prohibiting hydraulic fracturing. A fracking ban was on the ballot in Santa Barbara county, but the ban was defeated. Observers have noted … Continue Reading

Fracking dominates the November ballot

One of the most highly debated issues during the November election was the question of whether localities have the authority to enact fracking bans. Several cities throughout the country have attempted to enact prohibitions against hydraulic fracturing with varying degrees of success. Denton, Texas has become one of the latest cities to consider such a ban.

On November 4th, Denton residents voted on whether the city should enact a ban against hydraulic fracturing within the city limits. The measure passed with 59 percent of Denton residents voting in favor of the measure and 41 percent voting against it. The Denton … Continue Reading

Revisions to proposed fracking regulations in California

California recently circulated its third version of S.B. 4., a bill passed last year that sets forth rules regarding well stimulation operations. The California Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources received over 100,000 comments from the public regarding the first version of S.B. 4. The second version of the bill also received a significant number of comments.
The third version of the bill features several changes from the previous versions. For example, the threshold for reporting seismic activity occurring near wells has been increased to require a magnitude of at least 2.7. In addition, whereas well … Continue Reading

Ban on hydraulic fracturing in Santa Cruz County, California

On March 20, 2014, the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to prohibit hydraulic fracturing and oil and gas development in their county. This ban continues the ten-month moratorium that was started in September 2013.

Santa Cruz’s ban of hydraulic fracturing is largely symbolic because there are no known oil leases in the county nor has the area been targeted by oil and gas developers.

While Santa Cruz becomes the first county in California to prohibit hydraulic fracturing, other counties are considering their own bans or moratoria, including Butte, Mendocino, Monterey, Santa Barbara, San Benito, and Orange.

Beverly … Continue Reading

EPA reviews states’ solid waste management regulations for oil and gas operations

In an April 1, 2014 memorandum, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) summarized state regulatory programs concerning the management of solid waste from oil and natural gas exploration, development and production (E&P) operations.

In reviewing each state’s regulations, the EPA focused on surface storage and disposal facilities managing produced waters, drilling muds, drilling cuttings, hydraulic fracturing return fluids, and various other waste liquids and materials intrinsically related to oil and gas E&P.

The EPA found that the state regulations were primarily concerned with the “technical requirements associated with the design, construction, operation, maintenance, closure, and reclamation of surface pits, … Continue Reading

California hydraulic fracturing moratorium bill approved by Senate Committee

On April 4, 2014, in a 5 to 2 vote with two members abstaining, the California Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee approved proposed legislation (Senate Bill 1132) that would place an indefinite moratorium on hydraulic fracturing and acidizing activities throughout the state, both onshore and offshore, until a sufficient state study on the threats and impacts of fracking is complete and regulations are in place to protect the state and its citizens.

This bill expands on the hydraulic fracturing law (S.B. 4) that took effect on January 1, 2014, which requires oil and gas companies to:

  1. apply
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Environmental groups challenge shipments of crude oil by rail in the San Francisco bay area

On March 27, 2014, Earthjustice, on behalf of several environmental and conservation groups, filed a lawsuit against the Bay Area Air Quality Management LLC (BAAQM) for issuing a permit allowing North Dakotan Bakken crude oil to be transported to refineries in the San Francisco Bay area,  The environmentalists argue that the BAAQM issued the permit without any notice or public process, without considering the “well-known and potentially catastrophic risk to public health and safety” as evidenced in the Lac-Mégantic, Québec train derailment in July 2013, and without complying with the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

The environmentalists … Continue Reading

Bans, moratoriums and votes relating to hydraulic fracturing

Each state has legitimate interests in the orderly development of their oil and gas resources and generally regulates all oil and gas activities through a state agency which implements state laws.

Counties and municipalities have also taken interest in the development of oil and gas resources within their boundaries by enacting local ordinances ranging from set-back requirements to temporary moratoriums or permanent bans on hydraulic fracturing.

Proposals for temporary moratoriums and bans have been voted on in local elections.

For example, Vermont decided to ban hydraulic fracturing on May 16, 2012. In November 2013, four cities in Colorado (Boulder, Fort … Continue Reading

California drought being used to push for a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing

With most of the state of California under abnormally dry to extreme drought conditions, opponents of hydraulic fracturing are focusing their efforts on curtailing these operations to preserve the state’s water supply.

California assemblyman Marc Levine is co-sponsoring a bill that would place a moratorium on all fracking activities, arguing these activities require too much water and deplete the state’s limited water resources.

Last year a moratorium bill failed (37 to 24) while a bill requiring disclosure of the fluids used in hydraulic fracturing was passed.

As of yet, California has not done much fracturing, with the Department of Conservation … Continue Reading

California court dismisses lawsuit filed by environmental groups to block hydraulic fracturing

On January 13, 2014, a superior court judge for Alameda County, California dismissed a lawsuit filed by several environmental groups based on the provisions of the state’s new hydraulic fracturing law (Senate Bill 4).

In this lawsuit, the environmental groups sought an injunction prohibiting any new oil and gas permit approvals until the California Department of Conservation, Division Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (“DOGGR”) “complied with its legal requirements to evaluate and mitigate the significant environmental and public health impacts caused by hydraulic fracturing.”

Oil and gas industry organizations intervened and moved to dismiss the lawsuit shortly after … Continue Reading

EPA requires California offshore drillers to disclose fracking fluids

The US EPA, Region 9, will require oil and gas operators engaged in hydraulic fracturing off the southern California coast to disclose all chemicals discharged into the Pacific Ocean beginning March 1, 2014.

This disclosure requirement is part of a revised general permit for oil and gas operations in federal waters.

The revised permit requires all offshore drillers to maintain an inventory of the chemicals used to formulate well treatment, completion and workover fluids, and if there is a discharge of the fluids, to report the chemical formulation of the discharges (and the discharge volume) with the quarterly discharge monitoring … Continue Reading

Environmental group and congresswoman want to halt California offshore hydraulic fracturing operations

In October, the Associated Press reported that hydraulic fracturing activities off the coast of California were more extensive than previously thought. Interviews and public records revealed that oil companies had used fracking more than 200 times at six different sites over the last 20 years near Long Beach, Seal Beach and Huntington Beach.

The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), an environmental activist group, took up the issue of offshore fracking and urged a moratorium on these activities in an October 3, 2013 letter addressed to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, … Continue Reading

Illinois and California issue proposed administrative rules to implement hydraulic fracturing legislation

In Illinois, Governor Pat Quinn approved hydraulic fracturing legislation on June 17, 2013. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR) released proposed administrative rules to implement this legislation on November 15, 2013 – Proposed Administrative Rules for the Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act and Proposed Administrative Rules for Seismicity to monitor Class II UIC wells receiving any hydraulic fracturing fluids.

The rules require oil and gas companies to disclosure chemicals used in fracking operations both before and after drilling and to test water before, during and after drilling. The rules also require the operators to provide information as to how the … Continue Reading

California’s new hydraulic fracturing law cited as basis for motion to dismiss

On October 21, 2013, the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) filed a motion to dismiss citing the provisions of the state’s new law (S.B. 4) which sets out tough restrictions on the use of hydraulic fracturing and other acidizing processes.

The WSPA is an intervener-defendant in an October 2012 lawsuit filed in the California Superior Court for Alameda County by several environmental groups seeking an injunction prohibiting any new oil and gas permit approvals until the California Department of Conservation, Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (“DOGGR”) “complies with its legal requirements to evaluate and mitigate the significant environmental … Continue Reading

Environmental group urges moratorium on California offshore hydraulic fracturing operations

In a letter dated October 3, 2013, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) urged federal offshore regulators at the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, Pacific Region, “to place an immediate moratorium on new oil and gas approvals” and to suspend existing approvals “involving hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and other unconventional extraction techniques to protect our marine environment and comply with your statutory stewardship duties.” The CBD states that these agencies are violating federal environmental statutes, including the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA), by allowing hydraulic … Continue Reading

California Governor Jerry Brown Signs Strict Hydraulic Fracturing Law

Stating that the measure “establishes strong environmental protections and transparency requirements for hydraulic fracturing and other well stimulation operations,” Governor Jerry Brown signed California S.B. 4 into law on September 20, 2013.

This new law, which takes effect on January 1, 2014, sets out tough restrictions on the use of hydraulic fracturing and other acidizing processes.

Oil and gas companies will be required to:

  1. apply for and obtain permits before starting fracking and other well stimulation operations, 
  2. notify near-by landowners of these activities, 
  3. disclose all chemicals used, and 
  4. monitor groundwater and air quality. See California Closer to Having Hydraulic Fracturing
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California Closer to Having Hydraulic Fracturing Regulations

On September 11, 2013, the California State Assembly passed Senate Bill 4 bill which would regulate hydraulic fracturing operations and require disclosure of the chemicals used in the process to the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources in the Department of Conservation.

This bill now returns to the State Senate (where it was originally approved in May 2013); and, if this amended version is passed by the Senate, the bill will be sent to Gov. Jerry Brown for signature.

Additional provisions include:

  • On or before January 1, 2015, the Natural Resources Agency must conduct and complete an independent scientific
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Proposed hydraulic fracturing moratorium in Los Angeles

Members of the Los Angeles City Council have proposed a motion that would ban all hydraulic fracturing, acidizing, gravel packing and other well-stimulation practices within the city and in any areas that provide drinking water to the city, alleging that these oil and gas operations and the use of waste disposal injection wells ‘threaten to contaminate the City’s imported and local groundwater supplies [and are] inherently dangerous to the long-term safety, health, security and reliability of Los Angeles’ water supplies.” These council members point to “more than 1,000 documents cases of water contamination next to fracking sites,” but they provide … Continue Reading

Proposed hydraulic fracturing legislation and rules in california may chill development in the Monterey Shale

Members of the California legislature have been extremely busy proposing ten (10) laws that would rein in hydraulic fracturing and possibly chill the development of the Monterey Shale formation. This play extends more than 1,700 miles and is believed to contain 15.4 billion barrels of oil, approximately two-thirds of the U.S. shale oil reserves. Legislation in the General Assembly (A.B. 1301) would block hydraulic fracturing until the legislature passes rules specifying under what conditions it could be done safely. A.B. 1323 imposes a moratorium on fracking until regulators examine its health and environmental impacts (a report which … Continue Reading

California air quality district adopts new notification and reporting requirements for hydraulic fracturing

In California, the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) has adopted comprehensive notification and reporting requirements to provide information needed to assess air quality and health effects from oil and gas drilling, including hydraulic fracturing, in the region. SCAQMD is the air pollution control agency for Orange County and major portions of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

Rule 1148.2 applies to any operator who is conducting oil or gas well drilling, well completion, well reworks, or well production stimulation and treatment activities, including acidizing, gravel packing, hydraulic fracturing, or any combination of treatments.

  • Notification of oil and
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