Yesterday, Senate Bill 1132 failed in the Senate. In a 18-16 vote, SB 1132 fell three votes short of the necessary majority. The bill was introduced by Senators Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) and Mark Leno on February 20, 2014, as reported here.
Through amendments to Public Resources Code (“PRC”) §§ 3157, 3160, 3161, the bill would have imposed a moratorium on well stimulation until an independent scientific study was conducted by the Natural Resources Agency. Specifically, §§ 3160(a)(3)(C)-(D) required an evaluation of “all potential direct, indirect, and cumulative health and environmental effects of onshore [and offshore] well stimulation treatments and well stimulation treatment-related activities” by June 30, 2016. In addition, the bill mandated an evaluation of potential impacts for each chemical used in well stimulation treatments, potential impacts on pipeline infrastructure, potential impacts on wildlife, and worker safety issues.
SB 4 already imposes the requirement for the Natural Resources Agency to conduct an independent scientific study by January 1, 2015. SB 1132 also directly conflicts with PRC § 3161(b) which ensures that no moratorium on fracking will occur while permanent regulations on well stimulation are being finalized and implemented. The Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources (“DOGGR”) is on schedule to publish permanent regulations on January 1, 2015. SB 1132 was essentially an attempt to repeal the explicit provisions of SB 4’s ministerial permit requirements for 2014. (To read more about SB 4, see Stoel Rives’ SB 4 Resources Page here).
The Senate granted Mitchell the right to try another vote later this week. The failure of SB 1132 is the most recent of a string of unsuccessful legislative attempts to place a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing (see AB 1301, AB 1323, and AB 649). Thus, the second vote on SB 1132 is unlikely to result in its resuscitation.