December 19, 2013

On September 20, 2013, Governor Brown signed into law Senate Bill 4. The new law requires the Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) in the California Department of Conservation Division to prepare regulations to ensure that well stimulation, including hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” is done safely. DOGGR oversees the drilling, operation, maintenance, and plugging and abandonment of oil, natural gas, and geothermal wells.

Fracking and well stimulation inject harsh chemicals and acids deep into the ground to break up and dissolve rock and sand to free hard-to-reach oil and gas deposits. Throughout the country, fracking has been associated with extreme pollution of groundwater and surface water, air pollution and implicated in the induction of earthquakes.

DOGGR released its draft regulations on November 15, 2013, but not without criticism from the environmental health community: “At best, these regulations can be described as a mixed bag. At worst, they provide another example of an agency’s continued deference to a regulated entity, even at the expense of public health and the environment. For example, in defining well stimulation, one of the areas in which SB 4 was breaking new ground, the draft regulations have managed to craft the definition in a way that removes what common sense would suggest should be considered well stimulation. As it is now, the definition looks like it was written by oil industry lobbyists, “ said Kathryn Phillips, Director, Sierra Club California in a written statement.

Many organizations, including SF Bay Area PSR, urge members of our health and environmental communities to participate in the regulatory process so that it is not completely dominated by the oil and gas industry, and so that the substantive public health concerns receive prime attention.  The public has 60 days from November 15 to submit comments.

Make your voice heard! Click here to review the draft regulations and submit your comments.