Proposed California fracking regulations friendly to the industry, not the public

Jhon Arbelaez's avatar
By Jhon Arbelaez

November 22, 2013


Protestors stage a demonstration against fracking in California outside of the Hiram W. Johnson State Office Building on May 30, 2013, in San Francisco, Calif. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

On November 15, the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR), released its proposed regulations for fracking and other types of well stimulation, as stipulated by SB4. The regulations are the first in California to regulate fracking and acidizing. Although hailed by regulators and the oil industry as the toughest regulations in the country, they are not. Far from perfect, the regs leave much to be desired in the way of public health and environmental protection.

The proposed regulations do have some steps that move California in the right direction. For example, they:

Unfortunately, the proposed regulations are also loaded with giveaways for the oil industry. In many aspects, it seems that DOGGR has done the minimum required by SB4, and ignores the needs of the environment, and the rights of Californians. Additionally, the regulations fail to address some of the most pressing concerns that will come from fracking and acidizing – decreased air quality, and increased greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

Regulations based on science, that put the needs of Californians above those of corporate profits, will help protect people and the environment. The proposed regulations do not do this, and have been written in a way that circumvents existing California law. For example:

The public will have 60 days to comment on the proposed regulations before they go into effect. During that time, several public meetings will be held throughout the state, including:

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.

A written request by Earthworks and partners, as well as the office of Senator Pavley (the main author of SB4) for an extension on the public comment period due to the holidays, was denied by DOGGR with no explanation. Any member of the public wishing to submit comments must do so by January 15, 2014. Comments can be submitted via email to; 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, 95814, Attention: Well Stimulation Regulations.

The major deficiencies in the proposed regulations must be corrected before they can be put into effect. The role of state agencies is to protect the public, not the oil industry. The public must be involved at all stages of development, allowing for transparency and legitimacy in the process.

Tagged with: sb4, regulations, fracking, doggr, california, acidizing

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