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Proposed oil well fracking regulations released

November 15, 2013|By Marc Lifsher
  • Pump extracts oil in Inglewood. California regulators have proposed first-ever regulations for the controversial drilling technique known as "fracking."
Pump extracts oil in Inglewood. California regulators have proposed first-ever… (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg )

SACRAMENTO -- The Brown administration has released long-awaited proposed regulations for the controversial technique for drilling for oil and gas, hydraulic fracturing.

The process, known as "fracking," has been going on for decades in oil-producing regions of California but with no special oversight by state regulators.

That changed earlier this year when Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB 4, a bill by leading legislative environmentalist Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills).

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 The legislation was criticized for different reasons by the petroleum industry and anti-global warming activists. Oil companies thought it was too strong; environmentalists called it too weak.

Regulators are in the middle on the issue.

"We believe that once these proposed regulations go into effect at the start of 2015, we will have in place the strongest environmental and public health protections of any oil-and-gas-producing state in the nation while also ensuring that a key element of California's economy can maintain its productivity," said Mark Nechodom, director of the California Department of Conservation.

Many environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, dismiss the regulations as being too toothless to be effective.

Oil companies, however, appear to have made their peace at least in concept with the new rules, especially as they attempt to develop a potential enormous, untapped reservoir, the Monterey Shale Formation in the San Joaquin Valley.

"These regulations are extensive but strike the right balance," said Catherine Reheis-Boyd, president of the Western States Petroleum Assn., a trade group.

Pavley guardedly welcomed the release of the regulations. "I look forward to a thorough review of the proposed long-term regulations and the forthcoming emergency regulations, which are necessary first steps to end unregulated fracking,” she said.

Here's a link to the regulations.

Twitter: @MarcLifsher


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