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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on November 20th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 37 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 37

Political Watch 11/21/13

• The California Department of Conservation gave public notice on Nov. 15 of its release of a set of proposed regulations for enhanced oil and natural gas production techniques such as hydraulic fracturing. The notice begins the formal rulemaking process and marks the beginning of a 60-day public comment period. There will likely be an additional 45-day public comment period later in 2014. The regulations are proposed to implement Senate Bill 4, which was signed into law in September and strengthens the regulations surrounding hydraulic fracturing in the state. “We believe that once these proposed regulations go into effect at the start of 2015, we will have in place the strongest environmental and public health protections of any oil- and gas-producing state in the nation while also ensuring that a key element of California’s economy can maintain its productivity,” DOC Director Mark Nechodom said in a press release. A dozen public meetings were held to solicit ideas and receive comments on the discussion draft. Some of the regulations included in the proposal are:

  • Oil and/or gas well operators must apply for a permit to conduct specific enhanced oil operations, where information required on the permit would include an evaluation of the well’s casing and a list of chemicals to be used along with the estimated concentrations of each.
  • An operator must provide written notice to all neighbors of the proposed project at least 30 days in advance, and anyone who owns a water well can ask the operator to hire an independent party to conduct water quality testing.
  • Before fracturing can occur, an operator must conduct analysis of nearby wells and earthquake faults to prevent fluids from moving, verify the integrity of the wells casing, and pressure-test the well and equipment that will be used. And factors including pressure and flow rates must be continuously monitored before, during, and after fracturing occurs.

Comments on the proposed regulations will be taken at five public hearings that will be held throughout the state in January. One of those meetings will be held on Jan. 13 in Santa Maria at the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors Hearing Room, 511 E. Lakeside Parkway, from 3 to 7 p.m.


• Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara) helped write a letter from members of California’s Congressional delegation to California Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley and Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee urging them to implement an administrative fix that gives consumers the option to renew 2013 health insurance plans in 2014, without a change. A press release sent from Capps’s office said the administrative fix “will give consumers more information and choices, which would ensure stability in California families’ coverage and a smooth transition to full implementation of the Affordable Care Act.” The letter and administrative fix come after a realization that some people weren’t able to renew their health plans for 2014 because the plans didn’t fall in line with all the requirements laid out under the Affordable Care Act, such as coverage of a pre-existing condition. It’s just one of many SNAFUs that have come to light since the countdown to the act’s Jan. 1, 2014 implementation deadline started. “Implementation of the Affordable Care Act has had many flaws and we must address them to protect California families and businesses. I urge the state to immediately implement the administrative fix to provide consumers with more information and choices—including keeping their old plans in 2014,” Capps said in the press release.