California's Governor Jerry Brown signed into law today a new bill that will regulate the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, as well as other oil and gas well projects such as acid stimulation treatments.
The law, SB-4, establishes a regulatory program that will include a new study, the development of regulations, a permitting process, and public notification and disclosure. The law requires the following:
- Removal of the existing fracking permit moratorium when a required independent scientific study is completed;
- Revision of the law's scope to include both hydraulic fracturing and acid well stimulation treatments (“acidizing”);
- The Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) must establish “threshold values” to identify acid matrix stimulation treatments that require permits;
- The “savings” clause must be revised;
- Other regulatory tools be offered to all applicable regulatory entities beyond this bill;
- Regional groundwater monitoring in the vicinity of oil and gas fields;
- The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) to develop model criteria with outside input;
- The SWRCB to perform the monitoring in high priority areas
- Groundwater monitoring be added to the well stimulation treatment permit requirement;
- The state to complete a statewide environmental impact report (EIR);
- The ingredient list of trade secret chemical additives be disclosed; and
- The advance neighbor notification requirement be shifted to a third party from the well owner, and that tenants be notified.
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