Anti-fracking activists are expected to show up in full force across California this week as the state division that oversees oil and gas production opened the public comment period for the latest version of the proposed fracking and acidizing regulations. The Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) will kick off the hearings on Tuesday at 4 p.m. in the Santa Maria Board of Supervisors building. Signed last year, Senate Bill 4 mandated that an independent study on well stimulation treatments be conducted and completed no later than January 2015. Based on the findings as well as public feedback, the new regulations will go into effect next July.
But activists say the new state law do not go far enough, and environmental groups have begun campaigns to ban fracking and acidizing in a handful of cities and counties, including Santa Barbara. SB 4 does not address cyclic steam injection, and the area grassroots group dubbed the Water Guardians have placed a countywide ban — Measure P — on acidizing, fracking, and cyclic steaming on the November ballot. The group will show up Tuesday to make their case and argue Santa Barbara should be a leader in environmental protection. Opponents contend the county has regulations that are stringent enough and that the county is one of the only in the state to have an energy division to oversee oil operations within its borders.
Debate between environmentalists and the oil industry over the exact implications of the ban has ensued since it first went before the County Board of Supervisors in May. County Counsel is expected to deliver an impartial analysis of the legal language of the ban by the end of the month.
During the next week, DOGGR staff will hold the same hearings in Long Beach, Sacramento, Bakersfield, and Salinas.