SACRAMENTO, CA -- The California Department of Conservation, Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) has released long-awaited proposed regulations for the controversial technique for drilling for oil and gas called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
The draft regulations released November 15 are required by law through Senate Bill (SB) 4, which was signed in September by Gov. Jerry Brown. Hearings are being scheduled statewide.
Fracking is the process of drilling approximately two miles into the ground, below ground water levels, and using water, sand and chemicals to remove the oil from shale rock. The process is not new and has been used for decades in the Bakersfield area. What is new is that fracking will be occurring in the Central Valley, covering the land between Modesto and Bakersfield.
The positive impact of fracking would be seen in small and large communities in the Central Valley, which have been hit hardest by the national economic downturn. But, there is fear that fracking could also cause water contamination or earthquakes, concerns the environmental community has been using to delay the implementation of fracking until more studies could be conducted.
"We believe that once these proposed regulations go into effect at the start of 2015, we will have in place the strongest environmental and public health protections of any oil-and-gas-producing state in the nation while also ensuring that a key element of California's economy can maintain its productivity," said Mark Nechodom, Director of the California Department of Conservation.
Although oil companies initially opposed the new law because they felt it was too stringent, they like the new regulations.
"These regulations are extensive but strike the right balance," said Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association.
Key components of the regulations include: Oil companies will need state permits to drill a fracking well; all neighbors will need to be notified at least 30 days in advance of the intent to drill a fracking well; it requires that oil companies reveal the chemicals being used in fracking or acidization (another method of extracting the oil from shale rock); and, the oil companies, working with the Water Quality Control Boards, would need to monitor all nearby groundwater supplies for possible contamination.
For addition information and scheduled hearings on these regulations, CLICK HERE.