Friday, May 25 , 2018, 6:36 pm | Fair and Breezy 64º

 
 
 
 

Local News

Public Weighs In on Statewide Fracking Bill at Santa Maria Hearing

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a high-intensity oil and gas production technique that remains controversial in Santa Barbara County and California, as public comment revealed on Tuesday with speakers showing up at a Santa Maria hearing to discuss a new Senate bill. 

Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 4 last September, which aimed to complement existing rules surrounding well construction standards. The bill was an effort to safeguard public health and the environment from well-stimulation practices, including hydraulic fracturing.

The bill requires a permit from the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources, also known as DOGGR, to conduct well stimulation and the permit must include detailed information about the fluids to be used, a groundwater monitoring plan, and a water management plan.

The agency said that copies of an approved permit must be sent to neighboring property owners and tenants, and water well testing must be provided upon request.

The regulations may not go into effect until next summer, so a set of rules was put in place in the meantime that requires oil and gas well operators to submit notification of well stimulation treatments and other info to DOGGR.

DOGGR officials took public comment on the proposed regulations in Santa Maria on Tuesday evening, and will gather public comment from four other cities over the next week, including Long Beach, Sacramento, Bakersfield and Salinas. 

Some environmental groups maintain the law doesn't go far enough.

Locally, proponents of Measure P, a ballot measure that will go before voters this fall asking them to ban fracking, acidizing and steam injection methods in Santa Barbara County, submitted comments opposing the bill.

"These regulations don't even include high-intensity steam injection, which can also employ chemicals and pose the same risks to water and air as fracking," according to Lompoc resident and Measure P supporter Janet Blevins, adding that water testing regulations would be too little, too late.

Others said the bill already goes too far.

Ed Hazard, whose family has owned mineral rights in the county since 1870, said that the current state regulations are a model for other places and already safeguard the community.

"California knows how to do oil right," he said.  "We should be doing more oil right, not stopping production."

Nathan Schmitt, who works for Distribution Now, a company which sells oil and gas equipment, said that the regulations "will be the strictest in the nation" and the state should not pursue a ban.

Linda Phillips spoke on behalf of the League of Women Voters and said there are many loopholes in the current bill. She was concerned about water testing and the lack of disclosures about the types of acid that would be used and in what concentrations.

"As a chemist, I find this very serious," she said.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Supporter

Enter your email
Select your membership level
×

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >