Building on the ongoing effort to strengthen and improve the state’s oversight of oil and gas production, the California Department of Conservation on October 8 released a Renewal Plan to overhaul its regulatory program and continue refocusing on the guiding principles of environmental protection and public health. The Renewal Plan, along with the ongoing reform efforts, also will help fix various regulatory problems identified in a report submitted to the Legislature today under Senate Bill 855 (2010) that directed the Department to report on the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources’ (DOGGR) enforcement and permitting of underground injection control.
The Renewal Plan for DOGGR includes the following elements and actions:
- Completing a review of aquifer exemptions under the Safe Drinking Water Act and performing a project-by-project review while ensuring that any approval letters clearly outline conditions of the permit.
- Developing and updating regulations for hydraulic fracturing and underground injection control that are more heavily science-based and reflect ongoing technological developments.
- Establishing a standard practice for record-keeping and workforce training to boost transparency and ensure consistent practices locally and statewide.
- Building a publicly accessible online database of decades of paper records and a system for modern data collection and retrieval going forward.
- Meeting aggressive deadlines for new regulations, public input and well evaluations.
The report to the Legislature focuses on DOGGR’s enforcement and permitting of underground injection control (UIC), a process used to increase oil production and to safely dispose of the salt and fresh water brought to the surface with oil and natural gas. The law directed DOC to report on permitting and enforcement statistics and to provide a program assessment and an action plan to address that assessment.