Senate Bill 4 and Interim Well Stimulation

Interim Well Stimulation Program: January 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015

Senate Bill 4 (2013)

On September 20, 2013, Governor Brown signed into law Senate Bill 4 (Pavley, Ch 313, Stats of 2013). On November 15, 2013, the California Department of Conservation, Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (Division) began the formal rulemaking process for Well Stimulation Treatment Regulations, which went into effect on July 1, 2015.

Interim Regulations

Effective January 1, 2014, an interim set of regulations required oil and gas well operators to submit notification of well stimulation treatments and various types of data associated with well stimulation operations, including chemical disclosure of well stimulation fluids, to the Division. In addition, the Division is required to compile submitted information regarding these activities and make it available to the public in a format that is easily searchable.

Interim Well Stimulation

Effective January 1, 2014 and continuing until permanent regulations are adopted, Senate Bill 4 requires that oil and gas operators certify certain information and actions prior to any well stimulation activity. Information provided by operators can be found on the Division's New Interim Well Stimulation Treatment Index.

Effective January 1, 2014, Senate Bill 4 requires an operator to post, within 60 days following the cessation of a well stimulation treatment, specified information regarding the composition and disposition of well stimulation fluids, including, but not limited to, hydraulic fracturing fluids, acid well stimulation fluids, and flowback fluids, to a Chemical Disclosure Registry that is accessible to the public.

Readopted SB4 Interim Well Stimulation Regulations

On June 27, 2014, a readoption of the SB 4 interim well stimulation treatment regulations was filed with the Secretary of State. The interim regulations, which first went into effect on January 1, 2014, were adopted by emergency rulemaking to ensure that essential implementing regulations were in effect when Senate Bill 4 became effective. The interim regulations provide a fundamental baseline level of environmental protection while the more comprehensive regulations are being developed. Key components of SB 4 -- such as water quality monitoring and testing and public transparency -- are addressed in the interim regulations.

On June 20, 2014, Governor Brown signed into law Senate Bill 861 (Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review, Chapter 35, Statutes of 2014), which took effect immediately. SB 861 amended the Department's authority to use emergency rulemaking to establish interim regulations for implementation of SB 4. As allowed under the new law, the readopted SB 4 interim well stimulation treatment regulations will remain in effect until revised by the Department or until July 1, 2015, whichever is earlier.

Environmental Impact Report

SB 4 also requires the Department/Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources to prepare an EIR to analyze the impacts of well stimulation treatments. Suggestions of the content and scope of the EIR were taken at several public scoping meetings around the state. The Notice of Preparation for this EIR (required by CEQA) can be found here: The Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources must certify an environmental analysis of SB 4 by July 1, 2015. Also the Natural Resources Agency must commission an independent scientific study of well stimulation by January 1, 2015; a timeline for the study is being developed.