Jerry Brown

October 18, 2013

California passes fracking law

Source:, October 8, 2013
By: Philip L. Comella and William R. Schubert, Seyfarth Shaw LLP

California is the most recent state to pass a new, comprehensive statute with which to regulate the hydraulic fracturing industry.

The California statute is making headlines, and for a good reason: California contains an estimated two thirds of the nation’s shale-rock oil deposits. Further, since many details underlying the law remain unsettled, the stakes remain high – particularly in light of the fact that the statute authorizes civil penalties of up to $25,000 per violation.

The statute requires well operators to obtain permits before drilling. Permit applications must provide information including: the specific identification of the fracking well; the precise confines of the drilling activity; the names of any chemical constituents and fluid additives to be used; and written plans for the management of wastewater and the monitoring of groundwater.

The law relies heavily on public disclosure. Not only must well operators disclose information that will ultimately be made public (subject to assertions of trade secret protection) in the application, they also must turn over records after the close of operations. These will include “all electrical, physical, or chemical logs, tests, or surveys.” The law also provides that basic about the activity at each individual fracking well be published to an online database. Many operators already provide this sort of information to the public voluntarily. (See…

May 16, 2013

How will Brown Balance Oil, Environmental Interests?

Source:, May 14, 2013
By: Daniel Weintraub

California’s economy has been powered for decades by technology, trade and tourism — businesses and jobs mostly near the coast from San Diego to Los Angeles and around the San Francisco Bay Area. The state’s great inland valleys, while serving as a breadbasket for the world, have not been a land of high-paying employment or tax-producing industry.

A glance at the most recent unemployment numbers reflects this reality. While the state’s overall jobless rate is still high by historic standards, it has fallen to 6.3 percent in Orange County, 6.0 percent in San Francisco and 5.7 percent in San Mateo County. In the Central Valley, by contrast, unemployment remains in double digits from Kern County (13.6) all the way to San Joaquin (14.1).

Could Big Oil change all that?

A revolution in the oil industry that’s been taking place in Pennsylvania, Ohio and North Dakota is poised to sweep through California’s oil patch, with the potential to produce hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions in tax revenue for the state.

But there’s a big catch. That same revolution also brings the chance of environmental degradation, threatening the water supply and abetting a carbon-based economy that many were hoping would soon become a thing of the past. That might not be a problem in the rust belt or the job-starved upper Midwest, but environmental protection is one of California’s passions. It is also one of its attractions.

At issue is the future of what is known as the Monterey Shale, a geologic formation that stretches beneath the Central Valley from Bakersfield to Modesto. Parts of this region have been a source of oil for generations. Despite recent declines, California still ranks fourth among the states in crude oil production, behind Texas, Alaska and a surging North Dakota, and most of that oil comes from the southern Central Valley and the surrounding hills.…