Sen. Fran Pavley
[Sen. Pavley] –The federal government needs to strengthen proposed regulations of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and other practices to ensure protection of the public’s health and safety and the environment, California lawmakers said in a letter Thursday.
In an official public comment letter to the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM), 14 state legislators urged significant improvements to the bureau’s draft regulations, which were released in May. Most importantly, the lawmakers urged the bureau to regulate practices such as acidizing, in which large volumes of corrosive acids are used to expand underground fractures or dissolve shale rock to release oil and gas.
In California, oil companies have stated that acidizing could be the primary method of accessing the 15.4 billion barrel Monterey Shale deposit. However, like fracking, acidizing has been allowed to occur without oversight or monitoring.
“For many years, state and federal regulatory schemes have lagged behind the technology in use by drillers,” the legislators said in the letter to BLM Principal Deputy Director Neil Kornze. “While BLM’s decision to regulate hydraulic fracturing would start to address this problem, omitting all forms of well stimulation from this regulatory effort would likely ensure that regulators will continually have to play catch-up every few years as new well stimulation techniques are developed.”
The latest draft rules mark a departure from earlier rules, released in May 2012, that applied to acidizing and other forms of well stimulation. The bureau added an exemption for acidizing after numerous oil and gas industry representatives submitted comments requesting the change.
“As some lawmakers recognize, with over 15 million acres of BLM land in California, much of it covering the Monterey Shale, we need the strongest possible protections from all forms of oil and gas production, including acidizing,” said Andrew Grinberg, California oil and gas program coordinator for Clean Water Action. “We hope the administration understands that protecting our water and air must come before the profits of the oil and gas industry.”
In California, a bill calling for comprehensive regulations and an independent study, Senate Bill 4, is under similar pressure from the industry to exempt acidizing. The bill by Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) was heard by the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Wednesday but no action was taken. The bill is expected to return to the committee for a vote later this month.
Sen. Fran Pavley represents about half of the Santa Clarita Valley in the California Senate.
The letter was signed by the following members of the California Legislature:
Senator Fran Pavley (D- Agoura Hills)
Assemblymember Wesley Chesbro (D- Arcata)
Senator Noreen Evans (D- Santa Rosa)
Assemblymember Mike Gatto (D- Silver Lake)
Senator Jerry Hill (D- San Mateo)
Senator Mark Leno (D- San Francisco)
Senator Bill Monning (D- Carmel)
Assemblymember Marc Levine (D- San Rafael)
Assemblymember Mark Stone (D- Scotts Valley)
Assemblymember Das Williams (D- Santa Barbara)
Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D- Santa Monica)
Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D- Santa Barbara)
Assemblymember Nancy Skinner (D- Berkeley)
Senator Lois Wolk (D- Davis)