New Law Strengthens Water Quality Protections for Oil and Gas Production

For Immediate Release
October 13, 2017

Media Contact:
Alex Barnum (916) 324-9670

SACRAMENTO – Today Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed into law Assembly Bill 1328, strengthening the state’s water quality protections for oil and gas production.

The bill, by Assemblymember Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara), provides additional authority to the State Water Board and regional water boards to obtain information about the chemicals present in wastewater from oil and gas production. This information will help the water boards set appropriate requirements to ensure that potentially hazardous chemicals do not pose a risk of contaminating water supplies.

“While California already has strict environmental regulations for oil and gas production, we are taking additional steps to make it even safer,” said California Secretary for Environmental Protection Matthew Rodriquez. “By addressing a gap in our ability to obtain information about chemicals in oil and gas wastewater, this bill will enable the water boards to better protect water quality and public health.”

The State Water Board’s enhanced ability to regulate the discharge of oil and gas wastewater is part of a wider effort by CalEPA’s boards and departments to strengthen environmental and health protection from the effects of oil and gas operations.

Starting next year, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment will launch a series of scientific evaluations to identify the chemicals used in well stimulation treatments, including hydraulic fracturing, that pose the greatest risk to public health and the environment. OEHHA’s assessments will include a look at potentially less hazardous alternatives to those chemicals.

In addition, the California Air Resources Board will soon conduct intensive air monitoring studies in communities located near oil and gas production operations to assess the levels of toxic air contaminants and other pollutants coming from those operations. Starting next month, CARB will hold meetings throughout the state to solicit public input on site selection, contaminants to measure and other aspects of the upcoming studies.

Both efforts are partly in response to recommendations from the California Council on Science and Technology, which in 2015 released an independent review of well stimulation in California and its impacts. The report identified a number of knowledge gaps and alternative practices that could avoid or mitigate those impacts.

CalEPA’s boards and departments work closely with the Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources to ensure oil and gas operations comply with the state’s environmental and public health protections.