By Mike Flores & Olman J. Valverde, Esq.
Luna & Glushon
Interim DOGGR Regulations Go Into Effect January 1
Interim regulations by the California Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) for compliance with the recently passed Senate Bill 4 (SB 4) go into effect January 1. They will remain in force until permanent regulations are implemented in January of 2015.
DOGGR refers to the interim mandates as “emergency regulations.”
According to Tim Kustic, DOGGR’s state oil and gas supervisor, oil and gas well operators are permitted to “self-certify” that they meet the emergency regulation standards, by providing information to DOGGR. The permanent regulations to be issued in 2015 will require operators to apply for a permit for well stimulations.
SB 4 requires companies performing well stimulation to publicly disclose the well’s location, the time it was stimulated, any chemicals used, and other information.
The emergency regulations require that this information be uploaded to an online Chemical Disclosure Registry, such as FracFocus.org, already used by many oil and gas well operators.
Many of the requirements of the interim regulations “are current best practices for well stimulation” in the industry, Kustic noted.
“For example, if you are going to hydraulically fracture a well, you would always pressure test the well and the surface equipment before you would actually perform the hydraulic fracturing operation, just to make sure you have good mechanical integrity for the well and for your equipment,” he explained.
The interim and proposed mandates are on DOGGR’s website.
DOGGR Accepting Public Comments
The 60-day public comment period for the proposed permanent regulations is ongoing. The regulations are designed to protect health, safety, and the environment, and supplement the strong existing well construction standards. The text of the proposed regulations can be found at the DOGGR website.
This effort is the product of a dozen public meetings. DOGGR’s aim is to solicit ideas on what the regulations ought to include, and to receive comments on an unofficial “discussion draft” of regulations.
It also reflects DOGGR’s extensive reviews of other states’ regulations, of scientific studies; and input from other regulatory agencies, the environmental community, and the oil and gas industry.
Comments regarding the proposed regulations can be submitted via email to DOGGRRegulations@conservation.ca.gov; via fax to (916) 324-0948; or via regular mail to the Department of Conservation Office of Governmental and Environmental Relations, 801 K Street MS 24-02, Sacramento, CA, 95814, Attention: Well Stimulation Regulations.
Comments will also be taken at five public hearings around the state:
Sacramento — January 6, Sierra Room, California Environmental Protection Agency Building, 10th & I streets, 3-7 p.m.
Long Beach — January 6, California State University-Long Beach auditorium, 1212 Bellflower Boulevard, 3-7 p.m.
Bakersfield — January 8, Kern County Administrative Center, first floor board chambers, 1115 Truxtun Avenue, 3-7 p.m.
Salinas — January 8, National Steinbeck Center, One Main Street, 3-7 p.m.
Santa Maria — January 13, Santa Barbara County supervisors hearing room, 511 East Lakeside Parkway, 3-7 p.m.
Also the Natural Resources Agency must commission an independent scientific study of well stimulation by January 1, 2015; a timeline for the study is being developed.
DOGGR Holding EIR Scoping Meetings
SB 4 requires DOGGR to prepare an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) by July 1, 2015 of the impacts of well stimulation treatments. Public comments will be accepted at EIR Scoping Meeting to be held at :
Ventura — January 8, Ventura College Performing Arts Center, 4700 Loma Vista Road, 4-8 p.m.
Long Beach — January 9, Long Beach Convention Center, 300 E. Ocean Boulevard, 4-8 p.m.
Kern County Conducting Its Own EIR
Officials in Kern County, home to the vast majority of the state’s oil drilling operations, have issued an “Initial Study/Notice of Preparation” of an Environmental Impact Report under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA.)
The EIR is part of a process to amend the county’s ordinance covering drilling activities.
Stakeholders believe the county’s EIR can serve as a model for the California Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) as it prepares a statewide EIR for fracking and other well stimulation treatments.
Kern County is acting in a response to an application in January by the California Independent Petroleum Association, the Independent Oil Producers Association, and Western States Petroleum Association.
These industry organizations hope that the county’s EIR process will become a model for similar evaluations in other parts of the state.
“The expected outcome of this process is to find a balanced approach to regulation of hydraulic fracturing activities in the San Joaquin Valley that accounts for both environmental protection and economic development,” said Cathy Reheis-Boyd, WSPA president.
She notes that, in public workshops held last month on the EIR plan, Kern County officials “pre-emptively rejected calls for a moratorium or a ban on oil and gas activities” that are being sought by some environmental groups.
Kern County hopes to complete the EIR by the end of 2014.
CIPA Opens Regional Office in Bakersfield
In recognition of the growing number of local issues affecting oil and gas production, the Board of Directors of the California Independent Petroleum Association has approved the creation of a CIPA regional office in Bakersfield to work on local issues affecting the oil and gas industry.
Blair Knox has been tapped to lead the new office, and will assume the title of Director of Regional Affairs effective January 1, 2014.
Knox will relocate to his home county of Kern, and will set up a CIPA office in Bakersfield. The office will serve Central and Southern California counties including as Kern, Kings, Fresno, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, and Orange.
CIPA has long depended on the volunteer efforts of its members to tackle many local issues. The regional office will work with CIPA members on important regional issues. It will also strive to build support among local elected officials, royalty owners, service and supply companies and other industrt and advocacy groups.
As Director of Regional Affairs, Knox will be more available to CIPA members to support local project applications and assist when permitting problems arise.