California Department of Conservation Issues Draft Proposal to Increase Regulation of Hydraulic Fracturing

Environmental Law  

December 19, 2012

The California Department of Conservation Oil and Gas Division (“Department”) released a discussion draft of hydraulic fracturing regulations on December 18, 2012. The draft does not trigger the formal legal process for adopting regulations.  Instead, the draft’s purpose is to be a starting point for discussion with stakeholders. The draft covers pre-fracturing testing, pre-notice reporting of testing, monitoring during and after fracturing operations, required disclosures, trade secret protections, and the storage and handling of hydraulic fracturing fluids.  California maintains high construction standards for all wells, and if this draft becomes regulations, it will make standards even higher for hydraulic fracturing wells.

The draft clarifies that fracturing fluids are subject to the Department’s current provisions governing notification, response and clean-up of spills in the oil field environment. Concentrated fracturing fluids stored on-site prior to mixing, mixed fracturing fluids, produced fluids, including fracturing fluid flowback will all be subject to these requirements. The draft does not impose any new requirements for the clean up and remediation of unauthorized spills and releases from fracturing. Rather the draft specifies that in the event of an unauthorized release, cleanup and remediation shall be performed in compliance with all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations.  Such unauthorized releases must also be reported to the Department in a written report within 5 days.

The Department will seek input on the draft in the coming weeks through workshops, informal meetings with stakeholders, and individual written comments. The Department expects to begin the formal rulemaking process in early 2013. To review the draft, click on the following link:


The information in this newsletter is not intended to provide specific legal advice. You should consult with an attorney and not rely on any information contained herein regarding your specific situation.