Some news from our neighbor to the north: A group calling themselves Santa Barbara Water Guardians have gotten a proposition on the ballet that would ban "High-Intensity Petroleum Operations. High-Intensity Petroleum Operations include hydraulic fracturing (also known as fracking), acid well stimulation treatments, cyclic steam injection and other types of oil and gas development that use advanced well stimulation technologies." in Santa Barbara County.
The group says the proposition will only apply to new projects.
For information supporting Prop P visit: http://www.sbcountywaterguardians.org
VCInFocus is awaiting a response from Western States Petroleum Association for the industry's take on Prop P.
LA city Council to vote on fracking ban - why has Ventura County Counsel told Sups they Can't do that?
The LA times has reported that the LA City Council is going to vote on a fracking ban within their city limits. Other cities around the nation have passed bans, Pittsburgh, PA being the first to do so by local city ordinance. The Pittsburgh city council was threatened with law suits, but none were ever filed. Last year, when the topic came up before the Ventura County Board of Supervisors, County Counsel advised them that they did not have the ability to ban hydraulic fracturing in the County. And Supervisor Steve Bennet indicated he did not "want to create a path to litigation" for the County.
This brings up issues of preemption and whether the State has total authority over the use of land within various boundaries, it can get a bit murky when you say that the STate has jurisdiction below the ground, the actual drilling part, but the County has authority for the surface.
Some communities on the east coast have found what might be a back door way to ban fracking by working to ban the transport of fracking waste within their city or county limits.
The LA Times Article:
First step toward fracking ban in L.A. taken by land use panel
By Emily Alpert ReyesFebruary 25, 2014, 8:25 p.m.
A Los Angeles City Council committee took a first step Tuesday toward banning hydraulic fracturing and other disputed practices tied to oil extraction, winning cheers and applause from a packed auditorium.
"Fracking and other unconventional drilling is happening here in Los Angeles, and without the oversight and review to keep our neighborhoods safe," Councilman Mike Bonin told the Planning and Land Use Management Committee.... read the full article here http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-los-angeles-fracking-ban-20140225,0,3908061.story#ixzz2uVVV21fa
From the press release:
SACRAMENTO, Calif., Feb. 21, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, State Senators Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) and Mark Leno(D-San Francisco) introduced legislation to protect the health and safety of Californians from the potentially harmful consequences of unconventional well stimulation and drilling.
SB 1132 calls for a moratorium on all forms of extreme well stimulation, including hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," and acidization until a comprehensive, independent and multi-agency review exploring the economic, environmental and public health impacts is complete. The study will also include evaluation of the adverse and disparate health impacts and environmental burdens affecting lower-income and minority communities. It further requires that Governor Jerry Brown
act in response to the study's findings to determine if and where fracking and other well stimulation may resume.
"There are a million Angelenos that live within a 5-mile radius of the largest urban oil field in the country," said Senator Mitchell, whose predominantly minority district includes the Inglewood Oil Field. "In my district vulnerable neighborhoods lie adjacent to drilling operations whose practices go largely unregulated. Complaints that residents are exposed to hazardous chemicals and toxic pollutants and which cause all kinds of health symptoms have been ignored. When industrial operations like fracking and acidization disproportionately impact minority communities, environmental justice has been breached and needs to be restored. SB 1132 will do that."
Current California law does not regulate either fracking or acidization. Of the more than 750 chemicals used in fracking, at least 29 of them are known to be harmful to human health. These chemicals, including hydrofluoric acid and benzene, have been linked to cancer, respiratory, developmental, and neurological problems, yet the practice of fracking and other potentially dangerous methods of oil and gas extraction continue to spread.
A bill passed last year requires an independent study of fracking. SB 1132 would expand its scope to include health risks posed by chemicals used in other forms of well stimulation, the safety of industry workers and nearby residents, as well as the state's water supply.
"A moratorium on fracking is especially critical as California faces a severe drought with water resources at an all-time low," said Senator Leno. "We are currently allowing fracking operations to expand despite the potential consequences on our water supply, including availability and price of water, the potential for drinking water contamination and the generation of billions of barrels of polluted water."
SOURCE CA Senator Holly Mitchell
Read the Bill HERE
Questions Remain Over Offshore AcidizingDiffering Definitions of Technical Terms May Explain Why Platform Holly Dispute Exists
Thursday, February 20, 2014by MATT KETTMANN (CONTACT)
Last week, one day after a report was released claiming that Venoco Inc. was using a technique known as matrix acidizing to stimulate production from the wells that it accesses from Platform Holly off the Goleta coast, the Carpinteria-based oil company issued a brief statement denying that it was using the process for extraction purposes. “Venoco does not hydraulically fracture or matrix acidize any wells on Platform Holly,” said Venoco spokesperson Lisa Rivas in an email. Instead, she explained that acid is used for cleaning the platform’s well bores, which has been done for several decades. “This is a process that has been used in onshore and offshore oil wells around the world for generations,” Rivas explained.
Read the full story: http://independent.com/news/2014/feb/20/questions-remain-over-offshore-acidizing/
Another story, another perspective of the Job Boom the industry says comes with the enhanced production of oil and gas. This short film from the NY Times, focuses on one woman's experience in North Dakota. California is estimated to have many times more oil under our soil.
"Running on Fumes in North Dakota," NY Times.
Photo info: A acid job that occurred in September 2013 in Upper Ojai. In the coming year, operators will have to "certify" to DOGGR that prior to this operation they have notified neighbors within 500 feet of the site, and within 1500 feet of the well bore location underground. Currently no notification of any kind is required.
The California Department of Conservation, Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources has released a thirteen page document containing proposed regulations for hydraulic fracturing (fracking), acidization and other well stimulation processes. Today begins the sixty day public comment period and marks the beginning of the formal rule making process which lasts three hundred and sixty five days. Those regulations will take affect January 1, 2015. In addition, DOGGR has begun the drafting of emergency regulations (so called because of the tight time frame with which they have to get them out and implemented) that will take affect on January 1, 2014.
These rules are mandated by the passage of SB 4 or The Pavley Bill, written by Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills). Beginning Jan 1, 2014 operators will have to certify that they have complied with notification (of neighbors within 1500 feet of the well bore destination and within 500 feet of the well surface location) rules disclosure requirements. The permit process changes in 2015 with an actual application and technical review that will occur prior to permit for well stimulation being approved.
(edited/corrected 11/19/13) The new regulations apply to "hydraulic fracturing, acid fracturing, and acid matrix stimulation." The article does not apply to "underground injection projects." An underground injection project or disposal projects is defined - in these proposed regulations - as a "sustained or continual injection into one or more wells over an extended period in order to add fluid to a zone for the purpose of enhanced oil recovery, disposal or storage." Various projects that are not covered in the proposed regulations - which are aimed at regulated well stimulation processes - include "water flood injection, steam flood injection, cyclic steam injection, injection disposal and gas storage projects."
DOGGR expects to have to increase the fourteen cent per barrel assessment that is currently charged to all operators in the state in order to fund the implementation of the new rules.
“We’re pleased that the State has taken this important step towards providing more public disclosure and environmental safeguards for fracking in the Los Padres National Forest and throughout California,” said Jeff Kuyper, executive director of Los Padres ForestWatch, an independent nonprofit organization that monitors oil drilling and fracking in the Sespe Oil Field. “But there’s still much work to be done. As the regulations are finalized over the course of the next year, we will continue to demand the strongest protections possible to guard against pollution and protect our forest’s watersheds. Our farms, our communities, and our wildlife depend on it.”
Friday morning DOGGR officials spoke with reporters on the phone regarding the proposed regulations and emphasized that while a complex body of laws has been in place for decades covering well integrity and construction the new laws create transparency by improving access to information.
"These regulations give us more information about [hydraulic fracturing] is used today," said Tim Kustic, director of DOGGR. "And going forward. This sets the stage for new and robust regulations." He emphasized that industry has already voluntarily disclosed 1000 fracking jobs in the state on the website fracfocus. DOGGR will use fracfocus in the interim while it develops it's own online database for reporting well stimulation processes.
"One of the successes of SB4 is that it will increase our understanding of ground water," said Jason Marshall, chief deputy director with the Department of Conservation.
Also on the call was Tom Howard, executive director of the State Water Resources Control Board. An important part of the SB4 creates for the first time ever in the state requirements for the ground water management plan, and testing for ground water baseline quality.
Howard explained that the state water board will be entering into a rulemaking process as well as they implement the aspects of SB4 that apply to testing and monitoring of the ground water - SB4 actually creates an addition to the state water code.
Public hearings are scheduled throughout the state. AT this time there is no hearing scheduled in Ventura County, but Sen. Pavley has requested that one be held, Nechodom indicated they are considering that, but that a workshop will take place in Ventura County as the scoping progresses regarding the environmental impact study on hydraulic fracturing and other well stimulation practices.
“It is irresponsible for the oil industry to continue fracking our national forest until the regulations are finalized and adequate safeguards are in place to protect our watersheds,” said Kuyper. “ The Sespe Creek watershed is one of our region’s most ecologically sensitive areas, and every precaution should be taken to protect this important resource.”
Visit the DOGGR website to review the text of the proposed regulations and for information on the hearings.
Last week the Environmental Defense Center issued a new report on the practice of hydraulic fracturing - also known as fracking - in the ocean off the coast of California. The EDC charges that the federal government has for the past 20 years "been asleep at the switch while fracking and other forms of well stimulation have been conducted from platforms in the fragile waters off the south central coast." The report also addresses other well stimulation practices used offshore.
The report comes on the heals of Gov. Brown signing SB 4, the first regulation in California to specifically address various well stimulation practices including fracking and acidization. The EDC notes however, that SB 4 applies to onshore land and offshore waters within the State of California's jurisdiction, the new law does not apply to federal waters - which is the focus of the new report.
Click the image above to view the report.
Portions of the report appear below:
"Although fracking has been conducted off of California’s shores for at least two decades, the practice was until recently largely unknown to state and federal regulators, as well as the general public."
"EDC’s review and analysis of federal records received through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) show that at least 15 fracs have occurred offshore California, with several more proposals pending. More fracs have almost certainly been conducted, however, as federal regulators were until recently unaware that the practice was being used. The information currently available shows that the majority of fracs have occurred from platforms with a history of spills that are in close proximity to the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and other ecologically important areas."
" The nation’s first offshore wells were drilled along this coast, and it was here that the nation’s first large offshore oil disaster occurred. The 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill, which still looms large in the public’s consciousness, is widely credited with catalyzing enactment of landmark state and federal environmental legislation. The spill, however, failed to substantially slow federal leasing and permitting decisions that opened up California’s waters to extensive offshore oil development. Between 1967 and 1984, the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) sold 311 leases covering more than 1.6 million acres off the California coast.41 Today, 23 offshore platforms still operate in the Santa Barbara Channel, all but one of which is located in federal, rather than state waters.42
In light of its findings the EDC makes several recommendations to the Obama Administration:
"In order to guard against an offshore drilling disaster involving fracking off California’s shores, EDC recommends that the Obama administration:
Brightsource is offering a greener way to produce hot steam for the enhanced oil recovery technique ' steam injection', does this really make the process greener?
To read more about this technology on the Brightsource website Click Here.
"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."
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.