"Starting January 1, 2014, oil companies will not be allowed to frack or acidize in California unless they test the groundwater, notify neighbors and list each and every chemical on the Internet," Senator Pavley said. "This is a first step toward greater transparency, accountability and protection of the public and the environment. Now we need immediate, robust enforcement and widespread public involvement to ensure the law is upheld to its fullest."
Last week state senator Fran Pavley (D - Agoura Hills) sent a letter to Secretary of the Senate, Gregory Schmidt to "clarify the intent of Senate Bill 4."
Pavley writes that the bill will add a "discretionary permit requirement for all well stimulation activity," which will include fracking, acidization and other "practices to stimulate production." She also clarifies that the bill is not intended "to preempt existing laws, regulations, and orders...including, local governments authority over land use... the Governor's constitutional and statutory powers to issue a moratorium or a ban."
Several groups have said they are concerned that with the passage of SB 4 fracking could happen unchecked until the scientific study required by SB 4 is completed (to be done by Jan. 2015) - Pavley says that is not the case. "Is it not my intent that any well stimulations be allowed to proceed under this section unless full compliance with the substantive requirements of this article are certified by the operator as having been met."
The Governor is expected to sign SB 4.
The letter is below:
Out of State: Flooding in CO leading to Toxic spill from oil facilities (potential for release of fracking fluids?)
While Californians wait for Governor Brown to sign SB 4 and see how well it will do its job of regulating hydraulic fracturing and other well stimulation processes - folks in Colorado are watching the areas oil production facilities and wondering what is going to happen with the flooding.
Recent photos taken by residents show tilting tanks and plumes of some unknown substance floating in a rainbow sheen in the flood waters behind a floating tank.
What safeguards are in place in California in the event of a natural disaster like flood or earthquake to prevent tanks and pipelines from leaking?
Read a blog post about the leaking in Colorado here: http://www.texassharon.com/2013/09/15/is-there-a-media-blackout-on-the-fracking-flood-disaster-in-colorado/
VCInFocus writer Kimberly Rivers has a byline in today's Ojai Valley News. Below is an excerpt. Click HERE to read the full article at OjaiValleyNews.com
After passing the California Assembly and Senate on Wednesday, State Bill 4 (SB-4) — the only remaining bill aimed at regulating hydraulic fracturing and other well stimulation practices — is heading to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk and is expected to be signed.
After passing in the assembly earlier today, SB 4 has cleared the Senate and is headed to the Governors desk.
In statements made earlier today a representative from Gov. Browns office indicated the governor plans to sign the bill - that will be the first ever to regulate fracking in California.
Due to late amendments the bill is getting a cold reception from several environmental groups that claim it is too weak, and may effectively reduce California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requirements for fracking.
At the same time the oil industry is disappointed because they say the bill expands CEQA to include too many wells and it will affect the industry's ability to continue to supply "reliable' energy from petroleum to the state.
Stay tuned for full report from VCInFocus.
It's not over yet. The bill has passed the Assembly, it now goes back to the senate and if it gets past that body it will land on the governors desk. But this was a big step, with several amendments.
First the local response from Citizens for Responsible Oil and Gas:
"CFROG reminds all that this is only the first step toward making sure the recovery of shale oil beneath Ventura County will not damage the environment," said John Brooks, president of CFROG. "The state regulations control what happens underground, everything else like truck traffic on roads, land use, noise ,air quality ,water quality and supply, access roads and graded pads is the responsibility of the Ventura County Board of Supervisors and our city councils. Nothing in the legislation prevents local agencies from moving forward with independent CEQA review of the above ground impacts of tapping the Monterrey shale oil and CFROG needs your help to make sure that will be the next step."
As expected, the industry's response is tepid.
"WSPA members are disappointed the Assembly passed SB 4 in its current form. We have acknowledged the need to develop comprehensive and balanced regulations of hydraulic fracturing in California and had hoped SB 4 would provide those regulations," said Catherine Reheis-Boyd, president of Western States Petroleum Association. "Unfortunately, SB 4 could create conditions that will make it difficult to continue to provide a reliable supply of domestic petroleum energy for California."
And, here is the complete press release from state senator Fran Pavley (D - Agoura Hills) :
California Assembly Votes to Regulate Fracking
For Immediate Release
September 11, 2013
Contact: Will Jason
"SACRAMENTO – The California State Assembly voted 48-17 Wednesday to approve Senate Bill 4 (Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills), a stunning victory for the public and the environment that moves California a step closer to regulating hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), acidizing and other unregulated oilfield practices.
Unlike at least 14 petroleum producing states including Texas and Wyoming, California does not currently regulate fracking, which is the injection of water, sand and chemicals underground to crack rock formations and free up oil and gas. The state also lacks regulations for acidizing, which is the use of hydrofluoric acid and other corrosive acids to dissolve shale rock. Oil companies have predicted acidizing could be the primary tool for accessing the Monterey Shale, the nation’s largest shale oil deposit with an estimated 15.4 billion barrels of recoverable oil.
SB 4 would require permits for fracking, acidizing and other oil well stimulation practices. It would require notification of neighbors, public disclosure of all chemicals used, groundwater and air quality monitoring and an independent scientific study. The study would evaluate potential risks such as groundwater and surface water contamination, greenhouse gas emissions, local air pollution, seismic impacts, and effects on wildlife, native plants and habitat.
“I commend my colleagues for this crucial and difficult vote,” Pavley said. “There are still many unanswered questions about the use and impacts of fracking and acidizing, and it is in the interest of all Californians to monitor and regulate these practices. Ultimately the oil industry, not the public, should be held accountable for the costs of these activities.”
The bill will be sent to the Senate for concurrence."
And now for word on the cool response from several environmental groups.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press contact: Jessica Lass, 415-875-6143 / firstname.lastname@example.org
California’s Fracking Bill Passes Assembly with Flawed Amendments
NRDC, California League of Conservation Voters, Clean Water Action and Environmental Working Group Oppose New Amendments, No Longer Support SB4
SACRAMENTO (September 11, 2013) – "The only remaining California bill this term to address fracking (SB 4) passed through the Assembly this morning with new amendments by the oil and gas industry that undermine the bill’s original intent. The Natural Resources Defense Council, California League of Conservation Voters, Clean Water Action and Environmental Working Group no longer support SB4 due to these amendments.
“Californians deserve to have their health and drinking water sources protected from oil and gas development. Last-minute amendments, added due to oil industry pressure, threaten to weaken the environmental review required by CEQA,” said Miriam Gordon, California Director of Clean Water Action.
“This unfortunate turn of events should give Governor Brown even more reason to immediately put in place a moratorium on fracking and well stimulation while the state evaluates the risks,” said Damon Nagami, senior attorney for NRDC.
“We appreciate Senator Pavley’s leadership in addressing the environmental and public health threats from fracking,” said Sarah Rose, CEO of CLCV.
Prior to the introduction of the new amendments that compromise the bill, NRDC, CLCV, CWA and EWG had been working to put the critical safeguards that SB4 contains – new permit requirements, groundwater monitoring, public notification, inter agency management and independent hazards study – in place to protect Californians from risky fracking activities. "
Another group opposing SB 4 is Physicians for Social Responsibility.
Keep an eye out for a lobbying push from the energy sector and environmental groups that oppose and support this bill. Notice what kind of response the governor's administration provides.
By Kimberly Rivers
At the urging of CredoAction.com over 3500 voters have asked their state assembly members to vote no on the only live fracking bill.
The bill is said to be slated for a vote today - all bills pass or die by midnight on Thursday - and environmental groups are keeping an eye out for further amendments.
“This is a case where something terrible is really worse that nothing,” said Zack Malitz, Campaign Manager with CredoAction. Even with the current lack of fracking regulation, the campaign is taking the stance that SB 4 has been weakened by recent amendments. Credo supports an out right ban on fracking and feels the language in last week's amendments makes the bill even worse. They have opposed this bill from its inception, but now Malitz says the bill is “dangerously weak.”
He points to two parts in the amended bill:
1 - The Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) “shall allow” all fracking until 2015, when a scientific study would be done. Malitz says that language takes away Gov. Jerry Brown’s authority to ban fracking. And it could also be used by DOGGR
2 – Another section involves the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Malitz says the amendment effectively grants DOGGR the authority to determine when CEQA applies, and that is too vague. Environmental groups say DOGGR has been asleep at the wheel when it comes to fracking, and Credo says this vague language will just allow DOGGR to let the industry avoid the environmental reviews that CEQA requires. (The industry disputes that CEQA applies now, they say that well stimulation practices like fracking are currently exempt – READ yesterdays story, click here)
But would Brow really ban fracking?
“Yes. Governor Brown is a long time environmental champion,” said Malitz. He believes that if enough Californian’s want him to ban fracking, and point to the facts that Brown would choose to ban fracking. “It is incompatible with climate change policy.”
Pavley's office did not respond to requests for comment.
Below is Credo's fact sheet on the amendments.
By Kimberly Rivers, Sept 10, 2013
As the only live fracking bill sets up for a floor vote late today or tomorrow in the state assembly, controversy about the energy lobby, environmental review exemptions and claims of untruths abound.
SB 4, penned by state senator Fran Pavley (D – Agoura Hills) will either pass or die this week. And according to a Pavley staff member in Ventura County “it’s a moving target” because while it has already been amended three times, nothing is set in stone until the vote. Trying to track the amendments on this bill is like trying to thread Swiss cheese.
Some organizations are urging voters to urge their representatives to vote no. Credo is organizing a call in because, Credo says, one of the amendment exempts fracking from CEQA environmental review. But according to a group of environmental groups, that is just what the energy lobby wants you to think. Click here for an assembly analysis of SB4 Page 9 seems to address this issue.
Environmental groups and oil industry trade groups are actively lobbying.
[Note: CEQA = California Environmental Quality Act / DOGGR = Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources – the state’s regulatory body for oil and gas production]
“Oil lobbyists with the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) – representing 80 percent of the oil and natural gas drillers in California – are walking the halls of the legislature, telling lawmakers [SB 4] would require environmental impact reports under CEQA for each of California’s approximately 50,000 existing oil and gas wells. This is simply not true,” said a joint press release (embedded below) from the Environmental Working Group, the National Resource Defense Council, Clean Water Action, and California League of Conservation Voters. “They are using this false claim to request that fracking and acidizing of these wells be exempt from CEQA entirely – not just for ongoing fracking but for any future fracking project at the same well, with new chemicals, new processes or whatever the industry chooses – forever.”
“The environmental groups claiming WSPA is attempting to exempt hydraulic fracturing from CEQA review are misstating the facts,” said WSPA president Catherine Reheis-Boyd via email to VCInFocus. “Hydraulic fracturing and other well stimulation processes and technologies have not been subject to CEQA and its guiding statute. Some of the organizations that are on record opposing hydraulic fracturing have attempted to expand CEQA application to include those technologies, something WSPA opposes.”
“We actually dispute WSPA’s claim that CEQA doesn’t apply now,” said Andrew Grinberg, Oil and Gas Program coordinator with Clean Water Action, in an email to VCInFocus. “The bill (SB 4) clarifies that it does apply but does not represent an expansion. Enforcement of CEQA by DOGGR has been inadequate which is one of the motivations for the bill.” And responding to WSPA’s opposition of CEQA being applied to fracking and other well stimulation processes Grinberg said, “WSPA would oppose CEQA enforcement because they would prefer the status quo of limited oversight and public participation.”
If passed, the bill would take affect sometime in 2014 and would require various permits for fracking and acidization, notification and other regulatory measures aimed at protecting the public and environment from any potential ill effects. Opposing groups like the California Chamber of Commerce, say it's a job killer, and other point to DOGGR and it's fracking regs which are in the process of being written. Still no word on when DOGGR's formal version of its proposed fracking regulations will be completed and released.
Below is the recent joint press release: