The role of the Office of Enforcement in the Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) is to ensure oil and gas operators comply with California statutes and regulations.
Enforcement works closely with other CalGEM staff to identify and verify possible violations and take actions to bring violators into conformity with the law and prevent harm. Violations can range from minor issues such as missing records to more significant issues such as failing to perform safety equipment tests, spills, or falsifying records. Enforcement and CalGEM staff assess evidence and the severity of the impacts, and, as appropriate, take corrective measures that can include administrative orders and civil penalties. Depending on the severity of the violation, an operator can be assessed a penalty up to $25,000 per day per incident (geothermal violations are limited to $5,000 per day).
Administrative civil penalties collected from operators go into an Oil and Gas Environmental Remediation Account for plugging and abandoning (permanently sealing) oil and gas wells, decommissioning facilities, or remediating sites that otherwise might pose a danger. The State Supervisor of Oil and Gas has the option of allowing operators to spend up to 50 percent of assessed penalties on supplemental environmental projects (known as SEPs).