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California | Environment & Forest Defense

Is It A Win Or A Spin: Air Quality District To Require Frac Notifications
by Tomas DiFiore
Thursday Apr 18th, 2013 1:04 PM
But First! the new coalition for Trickle Down Trades in Democracy, in concert with the Mitigation Action Committee (MAC) for the trade group All States Service To Oil and Gas (ASSTOG) Political Action Committee (PAC) has claimed a victory over regulatory action by simply adjusting Administrative Requirements to gathering information, over a 2 year time period, with submittal of a finalized Report and Recommendations.
Is It A Win Or A Spin
Southern California Air Quality District To Require Frac Notification and Chemical Disclosures

Postponement By Default
But First! the new coalition for Trickle Down Trades in Democracy, in concert with the Mitigation Action Committee (MAC) for the trade group All States Service To Oil and Gas (ASSTOG) Political Action Committee (PAC) has claimed a victory over regulatory action by simply adjusting Administrative Requirements to gathering information, over a 2 year time period, with submittal of a finalized Report and Recommendations.

On April 5th, 2013, the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) adopted a rule requiring pre-notification of drilling and then later, reporting of air emissions and chemicals that were used in hydraulic fracturing operations! SCAQMD regulates air quality in Orange County and major portions of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

In addition to fracking, the rule applies to other production stimulation activities such as gravel packing and acidizing. The rule will go into effect in early June, 60 days after its adoption on April 5, 2013.

The Proposed Rule:
Notification and Reporting Requirements for Oil and Gas Wells and Chemical Suppliers (South Coast Air Quality Management District)
http://www.aqmd.gov/hb/attachments/2011-2015/2013Apr/2013-Apr5-031.pdf
is to be implemented in two phases, over a period of 2 years... the first of which is the notification and reporting requirements. At least 24 hours before commencing drilling, well completion or rework activities, the rule requires operators to submit written notification to SCAQMD that specifies the location of the well, the type of activity that will be performed, and the distance, up to 1,500 feet, from the well to the nearest "sensitive receptor". Sensitive receptors include residences, educational facilities, daycare centers and health care facilities. SCAQMD will then post this information on its website within 24 hours of its receipt.

It also requires operators and suppliers of the chemicals used, to report to SCAQMD information relating to air emissions and chemical use. Within 60 days of completing drilling, well completion or rework activities, the operator must report information relating to combustion equipment and fugitive dust emissions and the volume, management and chemical ingredients of fluids used in the operations. Suppliers of chemicals for drilling, well completion or rework activities are also required to report the chemicals that are delivered to oil and gas well operators. SCAQMD will post the information provided for the chemicals used at each well on its website, excluding certain details relating to chemicals for which suppliers claim trade secret protection. For chemicals identified as trade secrets, SCAQMD will post only the chemical family (or similar descriptor) and identify whether the chemical is an air toxic.

Phase 1- of the rule is to gather information on emissions and chemical use. Then no later than two whole years after implementation of the first step;

Phase 2- of the rule will be a report evaluating the information collected and potentially recommending further regulation.

The first Phase of the rule in no way, restricts frac activities, it instead imposes additional administrative requirements that could likely lead to future regulation including emission control requirements and fluid ingredient, volume and management limitations for fracking and other production stimulation activities... and after publication, an extensive review, and public stakeholders meetings, maybe by 2016 or 2017....

NEWS FLASH
Monday April 8th, 2013
SoCal Air Board Doesn’t Wait for State, Passes Own Fracking Rules Despite Defiant Industry
http://www.ca.allgov.com/news/top-stories/socal-air-board-doesnt-wait-for-state-passes-own-fracking-rules-despite-defiant-industry-130408?news=849670

Well, that's how the headlines read.
But what if the AQMD rules create a situation of pre-emptive rule-making that compromises our State Legislature's efforts to conserve and protect the land and resources of the State of California, it's citizens and their health, and the State's ability to provide for sustainable healthy environments that are prepared for growth in population, and able to receive visitors for generations into the future.

The nation is in an uproar over the effects of the Horizontal Frac. California Communities living near or surrounding the oil and gas fields of Central and Southern California and the refineries have for decades been in courts in an uproar, and now with the main focus on “Draft Regulations” For Hydraulic Fracturing In California” by DOGGR, a lot of the problems with oil and gas extraction in the state are being passed over with no real coverage in legal terms or in the press.

ENTIRELY NEW OIL AND GAS REGULATIONS ARE NEEDED – CEQA Review
Just like in 1972 when new regulations were promulgated for forestry, given that industry had written the rules previously, it only seemed right!

The wasteful pace of progress, unregulated as it has been and still is, continues to be promoted by changing the rhetorical headlines, yet the substance is already depleted. The wells that produce from the 'unconventional reserves' with the new technologies of extraction, consume too much water and sand, produce too much waste, and draw the oil and gas out of the earth at rates so fast that well depletion rates requires re-drilling and more water usage, or more new wells.

If the resource will last 100 years, what's the rush to claim production before environmental review, before delivery system of pipelines has been overhauled, before waste treatment facilities are prepared, before the volumes of waste understood or the pollution to the air, water, and land are contained, and before there are enough Regulators, and PETs and data crunchers, and citizen advisory councils in place along with proper Legislation and a Severance Tax for every State, only then can investment can proceed into production at the well site.

Otherwise we are putting at risk families' private properties, public lands, surface and subsurface water supplies, farms and rangelands, rivers and lakes, the very air we breathe, the water we drink.

Frac Humor, On The Spillway - Seventeen Ways to Look at Pipeline Spills
The Marcellus Effect - VISIT THIS SITE, numbered titles link to local news stories on the item.
http://marcelluseffect.blogspot.com/2013/04/17-ways-to-look-at-pipeline-spills-with.html

1. From your neighbor's back porch.
Maybe there was a swimming pool, or maybe it was just the swingset; but now it's thousands of gallons of heavy, stinky crude bitumen from Canadian Tar Sands, courtesy of EXXON. "Share this widely," said an email. "Local authorities have denied the media access so few have seen the extent of this spill."
March 29, 2013 - Mayflower, Arkansas

2. Through the eyes of a family of beavers who have sacrificed their home - and their store of spring twigs for noshing - to halt the flow of diesel into Willard Bay. Third spill in three years! March 27, 2013 - Ogden, Utah

3. From small town America
July 27, 2012, Grand Marsh, Wisconsin

4. From the banks of the Yellowstone River three days before celebrating our nation's independence.
July 1, 2011 Billings, Montana

5. From a leak along the Keystone... don't worry! It's just a transnational flesh wound.
May 7, 2011 Brampton, North Dakota

Last year, in the US alone, there were 364 spills from pipelines. This year, as of February 28, there have been 41 reports of spills - 70% of which were caused by failure of materials, welding, or equipment - racking up damage costs of more than $3 million.

It's Dump And Run
It goes on, and on, and on. The pace is frantic. At the drilling site, disposal of waste is the only limiting factor to production. Occasionally a local moratorium or ban pops up, some one where, but mostly it's Dump and Run when no other available permitted disposal or release is scheduled. And permitted disposal into rivers and lakes is only limited by the “water quality” in terms of the amount of Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), and that's for purposes of dilution. So if twenty trucks are dumping into the river that day, raising the level of TDS, your truck load may not be permitted in the afternoon.

TDS - Generally the operational definition is that the solids must be small enough to survive filtration through a sieve the size of two micrometer. Total dissolved solids are normally discussed only for freshwater systems, as salinity comprises some of the ions constituting the definition of TDS. The principal application of TDS is in the study of water quality for streams, rivers and lakes, and although TDS is not generally considered as a primary pollutant (e.g. it is not deemed to be associated with health effects) it is used as an indication of aesthetic characteristics of drinking water and as an aggregate indicator of the presence of a broad array of chemical and mineral constituents or contaminants.

Good Water Gone Bad, As Steamed Earth Is Literally Global Warming
And then there's the Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) process of Steam Injection, Cyclic Steam Injection, and Full Field Steam Flood Programs which are literally global warming; steamed earth, escaping gases, subseismic shifts, subsurface migration of radioactive gases and fluids, NORM, TENORM, surface expressions and sinkholes, subseismic events and intrusion into faults, contamination of groundwater aquifers, the air pollution at the surface.

And the water consumption is vast. More water is consumed for Steam Injection into the earth in California than is used in current Frac Jobs. Numerically, more wells are employing Steam Injection than any other process for enhanced recovery of oil and gas in California. The term California's 'Mature Oil Fields' means that the wells no longer are capable of producing good flow rates - in terms of barrels per day because the recoverable reservoir is nearly depleted. Oh yes, peak oil is past.

The Peak American Experience Is Past and There's No Such Thing As A Free Lunch (TNSTAAFL)
You can stay indoors and play with your handheld, but outdoors, the great outdoors is under a frac attack.

"Wells experience severe rates of depletion. This steep rate of depletion requires a frenetic pace of drilling to offset declines. Nationally, roughly 7,200 new shale gas wells need to be drilled each year at a cost of over $42 billion simply to maintain current levels of production. And as the most productive well locations are drilled first, it’s likely that drilling rates and costs will only increase as time goes on."
http://www.policymic.com/articles/26918/the-next-wall-street-crisis-is-the-fracking-bubble

The BLM oversees California onshore and offshore leases, but who's watching?
"Drilling Dysfunction: How the Failure to Oversee Drilling on Public Lands Endangers Health and the Environment," was prepared by the House Natural Resources Committee's Democratic Staff, at the direction of the committee's top Democrat, Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), joined by Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.). It represents the results of an exhaustive review of violations, fines, and regulations related to oil and gas activities on public lands in 17 states.

Average $150 per fine
"It's incomprehensible. In the past decade, oil and gas companies have committed thousands of drilling violations, yet they have faced a grand total of $300,000 in fines," said Rep. Holt. The report finds that from 1998 to 2011, more than two thousand violations were handed out by the U.S. Department of Interior to oil and gas companies drilling on taxpayer-owned lands. Some were issued to companies for not installing blowout preventers.
http://democrats.naturalresources.house.gov/press-release/new-markey-holt-report-reveals-drilling-dysfunction-federal-lands

While Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lease sales in 2012 generated $233 million for American taxpayers, the importance of the recent court victory against BLM cannot be overstated.

On March 31, 2013 - a federal judge - U.S. Magistrate Paul Grewal of the U.S. District Court in San Jose ruled that the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) sold the leases without properly assessing the threat that fracking could pose to water, fish and wildlife. Some of these leases are within the Salinas River watershed, habitat for endangered Central Coast steelhead.

“Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the controversial, environmentally destructive process of injecting millions of gallons of water, sand and toxic chemicals underground at high pressure in order to release and extract oil or gas. Many Delta advocates believe that the peripheral tunnels proposed under the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) will be used to deliver water to expand fracking operations in Kern County and coastal areas.”

“The BLM violated the National Environmental Policy Act by relying on outdated reviews which had been conducted before the advent of the extraction process known as 'fracking' or 'hydraulic fracturing' which has spurred massive development of energy deposits, when the BLM sold four leases in 2011 for 2,700 acres of federal land in Monterey and Fresno counties.”

“BLM’s dismissal of any development scenario involving fracking as ‘outside of its jurisdiction’ simply did not provide the ‘hard look’ at the issue that NEPA requires,” Grewal said in a ruling yesterday.

Opponents of fracking in California win big court victory
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/04/09/1200370/-Opponents-of-fracking-in-California-win-big-court-victory
Dan Bacher Tue Apr 09, 2013

The decision is the first federal court opinion to explicitly recognize the significant risks and controversies created by the spread of fracking across the U.S., said attorneys for the Center for Biological Diversity, which sued in 2011 to invalidate the leases. Some of the land covered by the leases is located in California’s Monterey shale formation, which spans 1,750 acres across the state’s central and southern regions.

“We hope this court ruling acts as a wake-up call that steers the federal government away from sacrificing California’s public lands for dangerous oil development.” The judge asked for a joint recommendation on the next steps in the case.

"The Center and the Sierra Club believe the lease sale should be set aside. At a minimum, no drilling or fracking on the leases will be allowed before the completion of thorough analysis of the environmental risks," according to the groups.

No Lease, No Drill, and No Spill “Planning and NEPA”
“Until a Federal oil and gas lease, a legal and binding contract, is issued by the BLM, the decision to lease is discretionary. Once the lease is issued and in effect, the BLM cannot then tell the lessee or operator that they may not develop their lease. Generally speaking, that would be a “takings” issue. We can only tell them where, when and how an oil or gas well can be drilled, for the most part.”

On the subject of bonding and leases;
“Oil and gas bonds are considered a performance or “good faith” bond and are not meant to cover all of the potential liabilities like the bonding requirements of 43 CFR 3809. Oil and gas bonds are (currently) $10,000 for an individual lease, which covers multiple wells and operations on a single lease, $25,000 for a Statewide bond, which covers operations in a single BLM state, or $150,000 for a Nationwide bond, which covers operations on all BLM administered subsurface mineral estate. These bond amounts are currently under consideration for increasing the basic amounts as one of the National Energy Plan tasks.”

Enough, time for action!
Relevant detailed local historical perspective is provided by these authors in the professional press:

Well Fracking In California
January 7, 2013 By Matt Childers
http://www.isfracking.com/well-fracking-in-california/

California Gets Fracked
Feb 6 2013 Corey Hill
http://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/california-gets-fracked/Content?oid=3454857

And how can you help place a moratorium on Fracking California?
http://www.laprogressive.com/fracking-in-california/

“For the past year, environmental non-profit organizations like Food and Water Watch, the Center for Biological Diversity, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Clean Water Action, Environment California, Citizens Coalition for a Safe Community, Breast Cancer Action and CREDO Action have been working to write and find legislators to introduce fracking moratorium bills. After much lobbying from these groups and ordinary citizens, State Assemblymembers Holly Mitchell and Richard Bloom introduced moratorium bills.”

The California Legislature right now is considering these two bills, AB 1301 introduced by Richard Bloom and AB 1323 introduced by Holly Mitchell, that would put moratoriums on fracking in our state.

“By April 29th both bills have to pass out of the Assembly Natural Resources Committee.
Please pass this action on
https://secure3.convio.net/fww/site/Advocacy?pagename=homepage&page=UserAction&id=615&autologin=true&JServSessionIdr004=12mmtbgkl1.app340a
to all your friends and listservs - tell the legislators to support the fracking moratorium bills!”

AB 1301 by Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D- Santa Monica) would define “hydraulic fracturing” and would prohibit hydraulic fracturing in oil and gas operations until the Legislature enacts subsequent legislation that determines whether and under what conditions hydraulic fracturing may be conducted while protecting the public health and safety and the natural resources of the state; and reads like this:

“Notwithstanding any other law, hydraulic fracturing operations are prohibited. This section shall remain in effect until the Legislature enacts subsequent legislation that determines whether and under what conditions hydraulic fracturing may be conducted while protecting the public health and safety and the natural resources of the state.”

On April 1, 2013 this bill was referred to the Natural Resources Committee.
http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140AB1301&search_keywords=

AB 1323 by Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell (D-Culver City) would define “hydraulic fracturing” in oil and gas operations and would prohibit hydraulic fracturing until the completion of a report, conducted as specified, and a determination is made that hydraulic fracturing can be conducted without a risk to the public health and welfare, environment, or the economy of the state.

“Upon completion of the report, the Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency and the Secretary for Environmental Protection shall make a determination not later than January 1, 2019, as to whether, and under what conditions, hydraulic fracturing is permitted within the state.”

The bill would also express the intent of the Legislature to, among other things, protect the public health and welfare, natural and environmental resources, and economic interest of the state. On April 1, 2013 this bill was referred to the Natural Resources Committee. http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140AB1323&search_keywords=

Senator Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) has a bill that would allow fracking to continue while a study takes place. Pavley’s bill, however, would institute a moratorium if the state didn’t finish its study by 2015.

Senator Pavley carried related legislation in 2012. That bill, SB 1054, would have required notification of neighbors and regulators, including water boards, before fracking could take place. It died on the Senate floor after a major industry lobbying effort.


California legislators are now carrying at least seven other fracking bills. Fracking uses and produces highly toxic chemicals that pose serious threats to public health and the environment. The threat is significant enough that 14 states have now enacted legislation restricting or banning the practice altogether until safeguards are in place.

Senator Fran Pavley actively convened the February 12, 2013 Senate Natural Resources and Water and Senate Environmental Quality Joint Informational Hearing in Sacramento on the “Regulation of Hydraulic Fracturing in Oil and Gas Production in California". Many thanks and appreciation are due Senator Fran Pavley.

The hearing was scheduled for 3 hours and went for 5 hours. See the article:
California Fracking: High Risk and a Real Crisis of Confidence
Thursday Feb 14th, 2013
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/02/14/18732001.php

Pavley’s new bill, (SB 4), requires companies to obtain a state-issued permit to frack; “to notify neighboring property owners 30 days ahead of time; and to disclose to the state all of the chemicals used to frack in a particular location.” View Text of SB 4:
http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140SB4

“The rules within SB 4 are merely the kind of common-sense protections needed for any potentially hazardous industrial activity, let alone one that is rapidly expanding in our state,” said Sen. Pavley. “While the industry correctly notes that fracking has been going on in California for 60 years, many of the techniques and chemicals are new, as is the immense scale of many of these operations.”

From Senator Pavley's Site:
http://sd27.senate.ca.gov/news/2013-04-04-state-announces-legislation-fracking
“California legislators have tried fracking legislation before, only to see their bills die in the face of oil industry opposition.”

“After amendments, SB 4 would require the Natural Resources Agency to complete a study on the impact of fracking before 2015. If the study is not completed and peer reviewed by that time, the bill would prohibit the Department of Conservation’s Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) from issuing any permits allowing fracking beginning January 1, 2015, until the study completed and peer reviewed. Also, despite DOGGR’s assertions that induced seismicity is not a concern associated with fracking, the study would include an examination of the potential seismic effects.”

SB 4 Passes the Committee on Natural Resources and Water
http://ca.opengovernment.org/bills/sb-4

Senator Fran Pavley’s comprehensive fracking bill, SB 4 survived its first test before the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water. The bill received a favorable 6-2 vote (Democrats Pavley, Evans, Hueso, Jackson, Monning, and Wolk in favor, Republicans Cannella and Fuller opposed) and will now move to the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality.

SB 4, received support at the hearing from Supervisor Steve Bennett of the Ventura County BoS, Bill Allayaud of the Environmental Working Group, and Damon Nagami of the Natural Resources Defense Council, each of whom testified in support of the bill. Mr. Bennett expressed support for the oil and gas industry and stated that the Board does not wish to stop fracking but is very concerned about water quality in oil-rich Ventura County. Mr. Allayaud acknowledged that EWG had only recently decided to support Senator Pavley’s bill. EWG finds the draft regulations proposed by the Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) inadequate, making legislation necessary to control fracking. Also expressing support were representatives of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, the California Association of Professional Scientists, the League of Women Voters, the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the Sierra Club, Environment California, and Clean Water Action.

But why wait?
Moratorium Now!
A moratorium at least until Jan. 1, 2015 when the EPA 'Green Compliance' Regulations are in effect makes sense.

Tomas DiFiore