On Friday, September 20, 2013, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill regulating hydraulic fracturing operations and other “well stimulation treatments” within the state. Among other things, the law requires well operators to obtain fracking permits from the California Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (“DOGGR”), notify nearby property owners and tenants of planned operations, and disclose the chemical makeup of fracking fluid to DOGGR. DOGGR is required to undertake a statewide environmental impact report on the risks associated with hydraulic fracturing, and to promulgate new regulations by January 1, 2015 that will specify the manner in which fracking can occur and will require operators to monitor and protect groundwater. Further information about the law, which passed both houses of the California legislature on September 11, 2013, may be found here.
Alongside his signature, Governor Brown added a signing statement reading, “I am also directing the Department of Conservation when implementing the bill to develop an efficient permitting program for well stimulation activities that groups permits together based on factors such as known geologic conditions and environmental impacts, while providing for more particularized review in other situations where necessary.” The signing statement suggests that the State intends for the fracking permitting process to be simpler and more manageable than the language of the bill might otherwise imply. Governor Brown is also reported to have stated that “the bill needs some clarifying amendments, and I will work with the author in making those changes next year.” The Governor’s office has not elaborated on the likely nature of those amendments.
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This article was originally published by Bingham McCutchen LLP.