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State releases proposed fracking regulations

Posted: November 15, 2013 7:27 p.m.
Updated: November 15, 2013 7:27 p.m.

The state has outlined a series of preliminary guidelines on how to regulate the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The final guidelines are slated to take effect in 2015.

The draft rules released Friday by the California Department of Conservation reflect many of the goals of legislation introduced by state Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, including barring fracking unless gas and oil well operators test groundwater before and after operations, notify neighbors of what’s going on and disclose all chemicals they use in the process.

Fracking is used to tap into deposits of gas or oil — using the high-speed injection of water, chemicals or a mix of both to shatter underground rock, allowing easier access to subterranean stores.

Fracking proponents say the process could be a boon for America’s energy industry and help curb the nation’s dependence on foreign oil, while opponents have questioned the environmental and public health impacts of the process.

Pavley, who represents a portion of the Santa Clarita Valley in the state Senate, pushed the bill — Senate Bill 4 — saying fracking was largely unregulated and needed to be more closely studied and tightly regulated.

“I commend the (Gov. Jerry) Brown administration for a timely initiation of the process, and 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,” said Pavley in a news release Friday.

“The public, my colleagues in the Legislature and I will watch closely to ensure SB4 is implemented appropriately to provide the accountability and transparency required by the law.”

Many of the regulations are expected to take hold on Jan. 1, 2015.

But the Department of Conservation is also expected to release emergency regulations in 2014 that will cover many of the provisions of Pavley’s bill.

“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 Department of

Conservation Director Mark Nechodom in a news release.

Those looking to comment on the proposed fracking regulations can do by email to or by fax to (916) 324-0948.

Comments can also be sent by mail to the Department of Conservation Office of Governmental and Environmental Relations, 801 K Street, MS 24-02, in Sacramento, 95814.

There will also be public hearings around the state on the guidelines in January. But none of those meetings will be held in the Santa Clarita Valley, with the closest one taking place on Jan. 6 in Long Beach.
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