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California adds more regulation for oil and gas industry; water quality and spill response

California Governor Brown has signed Assembly Bills 1328 and 1197, authored by Assemblymember Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara). AB 1328 gives California water agencies access to information on potentially hazardous chemicals used in oil and gas operations. AB 1197 will ensure their spill management teams are adequately trained and prepared in the event of an oil spill.

For decades, legislators in California have been working to obtain information on the chemicals present in wastewater from oil and gas production. Oil and gas companies are currently required to report the chemicals used for hydraulic fracturing, but do not have to report chemicals used for other oil and gas operations. These other operations account for the majority of all oil and gas production in California.

AB 1328 authorizes a regional water quality control board (RWQCB) or the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), while conducting an investigation of wastewater discharge produced from an oil or gas field, to require a person or entity to provide information for all chemicals in the discharged wastewater.

AB 1197 will establish a program within The Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) to measure spill response capabilities and performance criteria for Spill Management Teams, which a potential responsible party may hire to manage an oil spill. While oil spill prevention and response has improved over the years, oil spills continue to occur in California and across the country, including the 2015 Refugio beach spill and 2016 Crimson pipeline spill in Ventura County.

OSPR has documented through numerous drills that some Spill Management Teams fail to adequately perform, endangering response employees and surrounding environment and communities.

Both bills will become law on 1 January 2018.


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