Environmental Protection

California Posts 'Discussion Draft' Fracking Regs

The state's Department of Conservation says the draft does not begin a formal rulemaking process. It would require "rigorous" testing before, during, and after fracking operations that exceed what other states have implemented.

A "discussion draft" of California state regulations that would apply to hydraulic fracturing operations is getting lots of attention since being posted Dec. 18 by the Department of Conservation. The regulations were prepared by the department's Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources and were posted along with a frequently asked questions document that says they "go well beyond disclosure requirements to require rigorous testing and evaluation before, during, and after hydraulic fracturing operations to ensure that wells and geologic formations remain competent and that drinking water is not contaminated. Some of the testing and evaluation requirements of the proposed regulations have not yet been implemented by any other state."

The FAQ document also says the division is consulting with the State Water Resources Control Board to determine whether more water quality testing should be done than already is done quarterly by the California Department of Public Health.

There is no concern that fracking can induce seismic activity, it states.

Companies would have to submit information to the division at least 10 days prior to commencing fracking operations at any well, and the division will post that on its public website, including the well's location, the operator's name, and contact persons' names and information, within seven days of receiving it.

The draft specifies that the operator must shut down and then immediately report to the division when pressures exceed 80 percent of the API rated minimum internal yield on any casing string in communication with the hydraulic fracturing treatment.

The draft does not begin a formal rulemaking process; it is a starting point for discussion by key stakeholders, according to the division, with the forma process likely to start in early 2013.

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