As a follow-up to Julie Morris’ 06/05/2013 It is important to note that Senate Bill 4, as an interim requirement to oil/gas applications regarding hydraulic fracturing, are now required as of Jan. 1, 2014 to declare the chemicals used in extraction operations. 

From the Morris article: According to The Washington-D.C.-based Center for Biological Diversity web site: “There is no requirement that companies declare the chemicals used in their extraction operations, or even that they are using enhanced extraction methods. Any regulation on these activities therefore (need to be) enacted at the county level.”

Since the article was written, state laws were changed to address and resolve the environmental concern of unknown chemicals being used during the hydraulic fracturing process effective this year.

On September 20, 2013, Governor Brown signed into law Senate Bill 4 (Pavley, Ch 313, Stats of 2013). On November 15, 2013, the California Department of Conservation, Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (Division) began the formal rulemaking process for Well Stimulation Treatment Regulations, which will go into effect no later than January 1, 2015. Effective January 1, 2014, an interim set of regulations requires oil and gas well operators to submit notification of well stimulation treatments and various types of data associated with well stimulation operations, including chemical disclosure of well stimulation fluids, to the Division. In addition, the Division is required to compile submitted information regarding these activities and make it available to the public in a format that is easily searchable.

Interim Well Stimulation Notices

Effective January 1, 2014 and continuing until permanent regulations are adopted, Senate Bill 4 requires that oil and gas operators certify certain information and actions prior to any well stimulation activity. Information provided by operators can be found on the Division’s New Interim Well Stimulation Treatment Index.


Well Stimulation Treatment Disclosure Reporting

Effective January 1, 2014, Senate Bill 4 requires an operator to post, within 60 days following the cessation of a well stimulation treatment, specified information regarding the composition and disposition of well stimulation fluids, including, but not limited to, hydraulic fracturing fluids, acid well stimulation fluids, and flowback fluids, to a Chemical Disclosure Registry that is accessible to the public.

Effective January 1, 2014, the California Department of Conservation (DOC) has established interim regulations to govern oil and gas well stimulation treatment until DOC’s proposed permanent regulations are completed and become effective. The proposed permanent regulations were publicly noticed on November 15. DOC anticipates that the permanent regulations will be effective on January 1, 2015. The text of the interim regulations can be found here.

The interim regulations were established under an emergency rulemaking process to ensure they are in place when Senate Bill 4 becomes effective on January 1, 2014. The Department provided public notice of the emergency rulemaking on December 11, 2013, and the rulemaking package was submitted to the Office of Administrative Law on December 19, 2013. In response to public comment, the Department amended its finding of emergency for the rulemaking to include additional discussion of the basis of the determination. The notice of proposed emergency rulemaking that issued on December 11 can be found here. Department’s revised notice with additional discussion of its finding of emergency can be found here. response to public comments, the Department made the following revisions to the interim regulations that were originally proposed:

Clarification was added that an Interim Well Stimulation Treatment Notice is not complete unless all chemical constituent information is provided to the Division, regardless of any pending claim of trade secret protection. (Section 1783.1(c).)
Clarification was added that if the operator determines that there is no protected water in the area, then an Interim Well Stimulation Treatment Notice is not complete unless it includes concurrence from the Water Boards with that determination.
Clarification was added that an aquifer deemed exempt under the U.S. Safe Drinking Water Act is not protected water.
Various non-substantive corrections and revisions were made.

The interim regulations provide a fundamental baseline level of environmental protection while the more comprehensive regulations are being developed. Key components of SB 4 — such as water quality monitoring and testing and public transparency — are addressed in the interim regulations.