SB 4 Statewide Draft Environmental Impact Report for Well Stimulation in California

In accordance with SB 4, the California Department of Conservation released a draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for Well Stimulation Treatments in California on January 14, 2015. The official title of the draft statewide EIR is “Analysis of Oil and Gas Well Stimulation Treatments in California.” SB 4 requires that the state prepare an EIR pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) in order to provide the public with detailed information regarding any potential environmental impacts associated with well stimulation treatments in California.

The draft statewide EIR is a programmatic EIR. While it takes a more in-depth look at certain oil fields (Sespe, Wilmington, and Inglewood), the EIR is not generally intended to provide project-level review for any area of California, in contrast to Kern County’s EIR. The SB4 draft Program EIR contemplates hypothetical development and impact scenarios and provides a high level of review. A number of mitigation measures have been identified and are described in the draft EIR.

The public review period for this draft EIR began on January 14, and will end on March 16, 2015. The state will also conduct six public meetings throughout the state in February to receive oral comment on the draft EIR. DOC and CalGem also anticipate extensive written comments on the draft.

Under SB 4 the statewide draft EIR is scheduled to be certified by July 2015.

Kern County EIR

The Kern County EIR, which is in process and expected to be released in March or April, will offer a comprehensive review of oilfield activities in an area where over three-quarters of California’s oil and gas is produced and where over ninety percent of well stimulation activities occur. Unlike the programmatic statewide EIR, the Kern County EIR is a project-level EIR that supports an amendment to the Kern County zoning ordinance and future permitting activities undertaken pursuant to that ordinance. The Kern County EIR is not limited to well stimulation treatments, but evaluates all oilfield activities.

well stimulation’s Safe Track Record

“You want to spend your effort on the places where you’re going to save the most water at the least cost. You should go after problems that really matter and not go after the de minimis things where it’s rhetorically convenient.”
Director Jay Lund
Center for Watershed Sciences, University of California, Davis

“In no case have we made a definitive determination that the well stimulation process has caused chemicals to enter groundwater.”
Administrator Lisa Jackson
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
April 30, 2012

“My point of view, based on my own study of well stimulation, is that it can be done safely and has been done safely hundreds of thousands of times.”
Former Secretary Ken Salazar
U.S. Department of the Interior
February 15, 2012

“The Water Boards generally consider well stimulation a low threat to groundwater . . .”
Executive Director Thomas Howard
State Water Resources Control Board
February 8, 2013

WSPA On The Record

“The release of the draft EIR on Well Stimulation Operations marks an important milestone in meeting the deadlines set by Senate Bill 4. WSPA and our members are reviewing the details of the draft EIR and will continue to participate in workshops and public discussion regarding SB 4.

While we are pleased with the state’s process on implementing Senate Bill 4, it is important to note the draft EIR contemplates hypothetical development scenarios and provides a high level review. To date, well stimulation in California has never been associated with any known adverse environmental impacts.”
WSPA President Cathy Reheis-Boyd

Related News & Resources