EARTHWORKS

Updated fracking regulations in California leave much to be desired

Jhon Arbelaez's avatar
By Jhon Arbelaez

June 27, 2014

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UC Berekely students stage silent demonstration against fracking. Photo Lorenzo Angelo Gonzales/The Daily Cal

In keeping up with the tradition of waiting until the public is not paying attention, the California Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR), released their latest draft regulations for fracking, and other unconventional well stimulation on Friday, June 13, at 4:00PM local time – right before the weekend.

As required by SB4, DOGGR updated the proposed permanent regulations, which were released in November 2013, right before Thanksgiving. Earthworks, along with our partner organizations in California, submitted extensive comments that would enhance the regulations, and truly protect Californians' health and the environment.

Although there were some improvements, DOGGR seems to have missed the mark once again, and continues proposing regulations that prioritize oil industry profits ahead of public health.

In the new draft, DOGGR enhances some protections, including:

Perhaps the most notable improvement in the regulations is the requirement to monitor seismic activity in the vicinity of all well stimulation. The industry must report any earthquake with a magnitude of 2.0 and above, and coordinate efforts with the California Integrated Seismic Network to determine if fracking caused the seismic activity, and if the integrity of the well has been compromised. The rule also specifies that no new fracking shall occur in that area until an evaluation of the seismic activity has been completed.

This part of the rule is a huge achievement for Californians. Hydraulic fracturing and underground wastewater injection have been scientifically linked to seismic activity all over the world. In our recent report, On Shaky Ground: Fracking, Acidizing, and Increased Earthquake Risk in California, we analyzed the dangers that these practices could bring to the Golden State, and recommended ways that the state can safeguard against increased earthquakes from fracking and underground wastewater injection.

Yet many gaps remain. The updated regulations do little to truly protect California’s air and water quality, prevent increased emissions of greenhouse gases, or defend the state’s most vulnerable populations.

For example:

Take Action!

The release of the updated permanent regulations begins a 45-day public comment period. You can make a difference, submit your comments today! Comments must be submitted by 5 PM on July 28, 2014.

Public hearings are also being held throughout the state:

Earthworks will continue reviewing the regulations and will provide detailed comments to DOGGR on how it can further strengthen the regulations, and protect all Californians. Additionally, we call on Governor Jerry Brown to use his executive authority and implement an immediate moratorium on well stimulation, until a final study on the effects of this practice are fully understood. A recent poll found that 68% of Californians support a moratorium on fracking. We call on the Governor to heed their call.

Tagged with: sb4, moratorium, fracking, earthquakes, doggr, california

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