New California Legislation, Draft Regulations Impose Strict Permitting and Public Notification Standards for Hydraulic Fracturing, Acidization
On September 20, 2013, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 4 (“SB 4″), authored by California Senator Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills. SB 4 regulates the use of well stimulation techniques, including hydraulic fracturing – sometimes referred to as fracking – and acidization, in California. On November 15, 2013, the California Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (“DOGGR”) released proposed regulations implementing SB 4, and announced its intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Report pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”).
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In The Headlines
Controversy over oil sands is at an all-time high. With the arguments both for and against the Keystone XL pipeline raging, finding a solution that satisfies all stakeholders seems nearly impossible. The completion of TransCanada’s pipeline system would bring oil sands (called “tar sands” by activists) from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf Coast of Texas, where refineries would process it into more useful products. It would also support crude oil production in the U.S. by connecting producers in Montana and North Dakota with refining markets.
Proponents of the Pipeline argue that its completion will provide jobs, strengthen infrastructure, and lower the United States’ dependence on foreign oil. Those opposed to the Pipeline, including the Dalai Lama and celebrities like Robert Redford, Mark Ruffalo, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus have spoken out against it, certain that the negative impact to the environment will be staggering. They argue that the perils of America’s dependence on fossil fuels and the colossal damage any glitch to the pipeline could cause to nearby land, water, and living creatures, as well as high risks to the rights of indigenous people on both sides of the border. Meanwhile, as each side brings up more points that support its cause, the situation becomes increasingly muddled, with much less chance of either side backing down.
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Topic of Discussion
The Federal Shutdown: Immediate Impacts and the Future of National Energy Policy in the Shadow of Government Gridlock
“. . . full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
Macbeth to Seyton, Macbeth, act 5, scene 5.
After Congress failed to appropriate funds for fiscal year 2014, the federal government closed shop for sixteen days. In the end, the shutdown curtailed, but did not cripple, most routine government operations resulting in delays and mild aggravation for the energy industry. For most of us this is par for the course. Partisan gridlock has, for years, impeded the development of a coherent and comprehensive federal energy policy. The shutdown is just the most recent and visible manifestation of that gridlock.
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