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California Regulators Revise 2013 Fracking Proposals

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Regulations on oil policy continue to evolve in California as the state recently offered revisions to proposals released in November 2013 on the governing of well stimulation jobs that include hydraulic fracturing, the Bakersfield Californian newspaper reported. The revisions were released June 13, but were first discussed with the media this week.

The California Department of Conservation said the revisions were prompted by 150,000 comments it had filed since the release of the fracking proposals last November. The new revisions tighten up last year’s fracking proposals, and also rules governing acid matrix stimulation and other enhanced techniques used in oil recovery that are due to start in 2015, the Californian said.

The revisions did not address a specific complaint lodged by the oil industry regarding how oil companies are supposed to monitor groundwater quality during and after fracking operations. However, state water officials are expected to provide clarification on the water monitoring issue in July 2015.

The revisions addressed real-time monitoring of seismic events during fracking and oil recovery techniques, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper said.

The revisions met with a mixed reception, with the energy industry registering general approval of the transparency of the changes, while environmentalists said they were inadequate for protecting air and groundwater quality.

California regulations on oil field techniques such as fracking were first addressed in 2013’s Senate Bill 4. The Western States Petroleum Association said the new revisions were consistent with the state’s transparency and collaboration with the public and energy industry.

Other groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity and Clean Water Action, said in effect that the revisions do not go far enough in protecting the environment with regard to wastewater disposal, methane releases and other issues. However, the groups were pleased that seismic monitoring during fracking operations was addressed.

California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill in September 2013 to regulate fracking and other well-stimulation techniques, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Brown has rejected calls for a fracking moratorium and supported a bill last year allowing fracking to continue while the state studied what effects fracking has had on the environment.



Gene Lockard has more than a decade of journalism experience covering the energy and petrochemical industries. Email Gene at gene.lockard@rigzone.com.

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