Since today, Friday, March 22, is World Water Day, I thought it fitting to write an article about Fracking and what California legislators are doing to ensure that we have clean (non-flammable!) drinking water.
California legislators introduced three Bills last month that will regulate fracking in California. State Senator Hannah Beth Jackson introduced SB 395 on February 20, 2013, to regulate water produced during fracking operations. The bill would require the regulation of “produced water,” defined to expressly include water produced by fracking, as a hazardous waste by the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC).
SB 395 faces a difficult road to becoming law, as the scope of the definition of “produced water” (any water brought up from the hydrocarbon bearing formation strata during the extraction of oil and gas) goes well beyond fracking and conceivably could end up regulating “produced water” that is nothing more than pumped natural groundwater brought up during the oil and gas production process.
On February 11, 2013, Assembly Member Marc Levine introduced AB 288 to require fracking-specific approval. Under the current law, the Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) grants general approval to drill an oil and gas well, but specific, additional approval is not required for fracking activities. The bill would prohibit fracking without such approval and eliminate the automatic “10-day deemed approved” permitting scheme under current law that operates if DOGGR does not respond to a permit application during an initial 10-day period after a permit application is submitted. The bill would also authorize DOGGR to establish a fee for the costs of regulating fracking. This contrasts with DOGGR’s current discussion draft rule, which would not require specific approval for fracking.
On February 22, 2013, Assembly Member Das Williams introduced AB 982 to require an agency-approved groundwater monitoring plan for fracking operations. The bill would require an operator to submit such a plan to DOGGR, as well as the Regional Water Quality Control Board, for review and approval together with any notice of intent to drill, rework or deepen a well that also included fracking activity.
Call your Assembly Members and State Senators to encourage them to vote FOR clean water and AGAINST fracking! Find your representatives here.