Sept. 24, 2013
Kimberly Rivers, OVN correspondent
Gov. Jerry Brown has signed the first law in California that places requirements on oil companies when they use well stimulation practices aimed at increasing oil and gas production.
Dubbed the Pavley Bill for the bill’s author, Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills), SB-4 authorizes state regulators to grant permits for well stimulation practices if specific conditions are met. Those conditions require operators to disclose the well stimulation fluids they will use and to provide a copy of their approved permit to tenants and property owners of the well site at least 30 days before beginning a well stimulation treatment.
The bill applies to hydraulic fracturing (commonly called “fracking”), acidization and other processes aimed at stimulating production.
Until now, there have been no disclosure or permitting requirements specific to fracking or any other well stimulation practices.
“Starting Jan. 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,” 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.”
SB-4 will also require California’s Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency to oversee an independent study, that must be completed by January 2015, to look into acid well stimulation and hydraulic fracturing treatments. In addition, the State Water Resources Control Board is now required to develop a groundwater monitoring model to be implemented either on a well-by-well basis or on a regional scale.
“I strongly support SB-4. The public has been demanding disclosure of fracking and its impacts,” said Ventura County Supervisor Steve Bennett, who represents the Ojai Valley on the Board. “The public also demands real regulation of fracking. Full disclosure and regulation of other oil well techniques that could jeopardize health and drinking water is essential for public confidence.”
Bennett pointed out that the county has been in support of SB-4 since it was introduced, but said the bill will have little effect on local oil and gas permitting.
“The bill doesn’t really change how local agencies permit oil and gas operations,” he said. “Having consistent disclosure requirements and regulations statewide is far more efficient and effective than trying to accomplish it with the limited authority of local governments.”
Bennett said that the new disclosure requirements “Dovetail nicely with what I’ve been trying to accomplish locally. State regulation of fracking is long overdue, so hopefully this bill will get the lead out of state agencies.”