Pacific Swell

Southern California environment news and trends

Fracking rules workshop set for downtown LA Tuesday

California regulators have posted draft regulations online for hydraulic fracturing or fracking. Environmentalists say the practice can pollute the air and groundwater.
California regulators have posted draft regulations online for hydraulic fracturing or fracking. Environmentalists say the practice can pollute the air and groundwater. Calif. Dept. of Conservation

State officials want to hear from the public about proposed rules for an oil and gas extraction method known as fracking.

California’s Department of Conservation will host a public workshop on the issue Tuesday in Los Angeles. The meeting begins at 9 a.m. at the downtown LA Doubletree Hotel.

The workshop includes presentations on the “discussion draft” regulations. The Department of Conservation’s website includes sample regulations covering advance notice of fracking operations, monitoring during and after fracking, and disclosure of chemical proppants. There's also a narrative explanation for sections within them, like pre-fracturing testing: 

The proposed regulations require that the operator test well integrity at various points in the well’s construction to ensure the pressures/forces of HF will not break the well.  If the well has weaknesses that pressure tests reveal, the well could not be used for HF before the well is fixed or strengthened.  The operator will also be required to test the thickness and integrity of existing cement bonds to ensure that the well will not break into or out of isolated zones under HF pressures.  Operators will also have to test the integrity of wells near the HF to ensure that they cannot, after the HF is complete, create a conduit out of the intended zone and into other geologic strata.

Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity says Californians should care about fracking rules because they’re new for this state. “This is the first time that we’ve seen a concrete proposal from the Brown administration on fracking although it’s not an official proposed regulation,” she says.

Exploration at fewer than 1/3 of California’s existing wells uses the fracking technique.  But Siegel and other environmental activists say regulation must be strict to protect people and the environment.

The state Conservation department’s Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources says additional fracking workshops will take place in Bakersfield and Sacramento. Regulators offer a mailing list for people interesting in following the issue.

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