New State Fracking Regulations Following NBC Bay Area Investigation

Environmentalists worry that fracking can contaminate groundwater and pollute the air

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    NEWSLETTERS

    For the first time in state history, California will now regulate and track the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as "fracking." The state's new regulations follow an NBC Bay Area investigation into the widespread use of the practice to get at oil deep underground throughout California.Investigative reporter Stephen Stock broke that story almost a year ago and has this update.

    For the first time in state history, California will now regulate and track the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as "fracking."

    The state's new regulations follow an NBC Bay Area investigation into the widespread use of the practice to get at oil deep underground throughout California.

    'Fracking' and Earthquakes

    [BAY NOT WORKING] 'Fracking' and Earthquakes
    NBC Bay Area's Stephen Stock uncovers a practice here in the Bay Area involving splitting rocks underground with high-pressure chemical water. It's all to release natural gas or oil. The technique, called "fracking," is raising serious concerns all over the country. NBC Bay Area's Stephen Stock found out state regulators are doing nothing about it. This story was published March 1, 2012 at 12:24 a.m.

    Investigative reporter Stephen Stock broke that story almost a year ago.

    Click here to see the original story.

    Fracking and Earthquakes

    [BAY] Fracking and Earthquakes
    Art McGarr, an earthquake expert at the US Geological Survey, speaks about how human mining and fracking can cause earthquakes. This story was published Feb. 29, 2012, at 8:26 p.m.

    Though fracking has been going on in California in some form or another for five decades, Tuesday state regulators formally announced that for the first time ever, they will directly regulate and track the practice.

    According to draft regulations put out by California's Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) all oil and gas companies that plan to use underground hydraulic fracturing to get at oil will have to:

    1.    Pre-test the wells that they plan to use
    2.    Give the state 10 day notice before they begin fracking...
    3.    Have to provide specific information about fracking well locations, depth and types of chemicals used
    4.    Give state regulators 24 hours advance notice to allow them to witness the fracking operation.

    Under the new regulations the state will also use the information provided by industry to publish the locations publicly at least three days before the fracking operations begin.

    That information will be published by DOGGR on a privately run website called FracFocus.

    Click here to see the entire discussion draft of the new fracking regulations.

    There will be an exception under ‘trade secrets” which will allow companies to withhold certain information about the types of chemicals used in their unique hydraulic fracturing techniques. However, in a case of health concerns or an emergency, local doctors and state regulators will be able to access the list of those chemicals, even under the trade secret provision.

    Click here to read a discussion from DOGGR on these new regulations.

    But at least one environmental group says these regulations don't go far enough.

    The Center for Biological Diversity says companies will be able to avoid any significant and meaningful reporting under the trade secrets provision of the new regulations.

    A spokesman for the Center for Biological Diversity went as far as to say these regulations are worse than doing nothing at all.

    Click here to read the news release from the Center for Biological Diversity.

    DOGGR officials will now hold more public hearings to get input on all these regulations.

    DOGGR will then conduct an administrative review and make any changes depending on input from industry, environmentalists and the public.

    Officials say that process will likely take at least a year before these final regulations are adopted and they take effect.

     

    MORE:

    Read Federal Lawsuit

    Read Response To Federal Lawsuit

    Read Environmental Working Group Report

    Do you have a story we should investigate?  Contact: TheUnit@NBCBayArea.com