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California Crude Trains: How Much Oil Is Actually Coming In and Where Is It Coming From?

California has become ground zero for legal opposition to crude-by-rail projects. Opponents decry derailments, toxic vapors, and other ills.[i] Yet despite the dire images painted by crude-by-rail’s opponents, the reality on the ground in California has been quite mundane thus far. The high-water mark to date for California railborne crude supplies was approximately 39 thousand … Continue Reading

The Myth of the Regulatory Gap: BLM’s Proposed Hydraulic Fracturing Rule Compared to Existing State Law

For the better part of the last decade, oil and natural gas production from domestic wells has increased steadily. Technical advancements in identifying promising sources of oil and gas and extracting hydrocarbons from previously inaccessible formations has allowed domestic producers to reach production levels once thought impossible. Virtually all of this increased production has come … Continue Reading

Bakken Crude-by-Rail Update: Transloading Projects Dealt a Setback in California

Recently, we covered environmental groups’ increasing array of state-law challenges to midstream and end users of Bakken crude that transport or receive oil by rail. Since then, a California regulator has admitted to erroneously permitting a crude oil transloading facility without complying with the proper environmental review, and the company has voluntarily returned the permit. These … Continue Reading

Study Linking Earthquakes to Fracing May Shake the Ballots

On October 15, seismologist Paul A. Friberg published an article in the journal Seismological Research Letters that links earthquakes to hydraulic fracturing. The report was published less than a month before today’s vote, in which several communities will make decisions affecting the burgeoning domestic energy business. The article links hydraulic fracturing, not only to the … Continue Reading

Environmental Groups Ramp-up the Crude-by-Rail Fight in the Courtroom

Bakken crude producers and midstream transportation companies already experience transportation woes related to inadequate pipeline infrastructure, railroad capacity, tank car supply, rail accidents, and new regulations. But they also increasingly face a new problem: lawsuits. In September alone, the Sierra Club, one of the largest environmental organizations in the United States, filed two lawsuits challenging … Continue Reading

California Issues Proposed Fracking Rules

On June 13, the California Department of Conservation released proposed regulations for oil and gas production activities in the state. The draft rules are being issued pursuant to legislation passed last year. They would replace interim rules that have been in place since the beginning of the year. The regulations, which are now subject to … Continue Reading

Anti-Fracking Bill Defeated in California Senate

Yesterday, the California State Senate rejected a bill that would have put a moratorium on fracking until a state-commissioned study determined that it was safe.  The bill, Senate Bill 1132, would have prohibited all “well stimulation treatments”—including fracking and acid well stimulation—while requiring the Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency to commission an “independent scientific … Continue Reading

Protestors Call for California Fracking Ban

Thousands of protestors converged on Sacramento on Saturday, urging Gov. Jerry Brown to institute a moratorium on fracking in California.  The demonstration is believed to be the largest anti-fracking rally in state history. The protest was organized largely in response to Gov. Brown’s decision to support the development of California’s Monterey Shale formation.  Said a … Continue Reading

Los Angeles City Council Clears Way for Fracking Ban

A vote taken by the Los Angeles City Council last week could set the stage for a city-wide ban on hydraulic fracturing.  During its session on Friday, February 28, the ten-member council unanimously approved a motion to draft ordinances prohibiting all natural gas “well stimulation,” including fracking, acidization, and gravel packing, within the city limits.  … Continue Reading

Federal Regulators Reveal Approval of Three New Fracking Projects Off California Shore

On Wednesday, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) confirmed that it approved three fracking plans on a platform roughly nine miles off the California shore in the Santa Barbara Channel.  The BSEE, which is under the Department of the Interior, is the federal agency charged with regulating offshore drilling more than three miles … Continue Reading

California Enacts New Hydraulic Fracturing Legislation

On Friday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed new legislation to regulate hydraulic fracturing.  The law—which is scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2014—is California’s first comprehensive regulation of fracturing activity in the state’s Monterey Shale deposit, which is estimated to hold approximately 15.4 billion barrels of oil. State Senator Fran Pavley—author of the … Continue Reading

California Regulators Examine Offshore Fracking

            Regulators from the California Coastal Commission have opened an investigation into hydraulic fracturing after a recent Associated Press report that the practice has occurred offshore for the past two decades. The Coastal Commission, which is focused on protection of California’s coastline and marine resources, only recently became aware of the contents of the Associated … Continue Reading

California Releases Draft Hydraulic Fracturing Regulations

On December 18, 2012, California’s Department of Conservation (Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources) issued a “discussion draft” of regulations that would govern hydraulic fracturing practices in the state.  Although DOC’s formal rulemaking process is not slated to begin until 2013, its discussion draft is intended to encourage comment and discussion between regulators and … Continue Reading
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