As part of the rule making process that began following the passage of SB4 - to regulate hydraulic fracturing and other well stimulation treatments - the California Department of Conservation (DOC) has released and updated draft of the regulations.
The public comment period ends July 28, 2014. The finalized rules will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2015.
In a press release DOC Director Mark Nechodom said, “There are significant differences between the version released last November and this revised version, thanks in no small part to some helpful recommendations received during the initial public input process, as well as extensive consultation with other regulatory agencies,” Nechodom said. “This is a more detailed set of regulations. These revisions to the proposed regulations will advance our basic goals of protecting the environment and public health and safety as well as allowing oil operators to continue their significant contribution to California’s economic well-being.”
The text of the revised proposed regulations can be found on DOC’s website at http://www.conservation.ca.gov/index/Pages/prpsregs.aspx. Additional documents being added to the rulemaking record are also available for review and comment. Comments regarding the proposed regulations can be submitted via email to DOGGRRegulations@conservation.ca.gov ; via FAX to (916) 324-0948; or via regular mail to the DOC’s Office of Governmental and Environmental Relations, 801 K Street MS 24-02, 95814, ATTN: Well Stimulation Regulations.
There will also be five public meetings where the DOC will accept public input:
Santa Maria: July 15, Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors’ Chambers, 511 East Lakeside Parkway, 4-7 p.m.
Long Beach: July 17, Convention & Entertainment Center, 300 East Ocean Boulevard, 4-7 p.m.
Sacramento: July 21, California Natural Resources Agency Auditorium, 1416 Ninth Street, 4-7 p.m.
Salinas: July 23, National Steinbeck Center, Salinas Room, One Main Street, 4-7 p.m.
Bakersfield: July 23, Kern County Board of Supervisors’ Chambers, 1115 Truxtun Avenue, 4-7 p.m.
Some "highlights" of the regulations that have been expanded in the new draft are:
The requirement to notify neighbors in advance of well stimulation treatment has been more
thoroughly spelled out. One of the new specifications is that neighbor notification must be done with a bilingual (English/Spanish) template form that among other things explains to neighbors their right to request that their water wells be tested before and after well stimulation is utilized.
· Tracking of seismic activity during and after well stimulation treatment has been expanded to incorporate use of the California Integrated Seismic Network and to require specified evaluations if an earthquake larger than magnitude 2.0 occurs within the vicinity of a well stimulation treatment.
· A calculated acid volume threshold has been added to the regulations for the purpose of distinguishing between well stimulation treatment and other routine operations. The acid volume threshold will be calculated on a case-by-case basis, factoring in the formation porosity and the wellbore volume. The acid concentration threshold found in the originally proposed regulations has been removed.
· For operations that do not meet the definition of well stimulation treatment, the use of acid or the application of pressure to the formation must be briefly described and submitted for inclusion in the permanent well file. A searchable index of those reports will be maintained so that the public can easily review that information.
· References and descriptions are added regarding information sharing between DOGGR and other state and local regulators, and regarding key requirements of other state regulators.
· More detail and specification has been added to the requirements for an application for a permit to perform a well stimulation treatment. More detail and specification has also been added to the requirements for the various engineering reviews that occur in connection the permit application and in advance of well stimulation treatment.
· More detail and specification has been added regarding operators’ public disclosure requirements after completing a well stimulation treatment, in particular with regards to the disclosure requirements for the source, volume and composition of the water used and the volume and disposition of the water recovered after well stimulation occurs.