The Clean Water Blog

SB 248: Common Sense Protections From Oil and Gas Operations in CA

By Andrew Grinberg, CA Oil and Gas Program Manager - Follow Andrew on Twitter (@AndrewBGrinberg)

This post is part of Clean Water Action’s ongoing series this month on California Oil and Gas policy. The entire “July: Oil and Gas Month” series can be found here.

Oil Wells and Pipelines, Belridge Oil Field,Kern County, CA Oil Wells and Pipelines, Belridge Oil Field,Kern County, CA

Last week I wrote about the recent fracking study by the California Council on Science and Technology and shared Clean Water Action's initial response. Since then, the push for a moratorium on fracking in California has been heating up and over 100,000 people signed our petition demanding that Governor Brown put a stop to fracking and other extreme oil extraction practices. The petition, along with our response was highlighted by the Pulitzer Prize winning site, Inside Climate News.

In addition to an immediate moratorium on fracking, the report points to other measures needed to rein in oil industry pollution, both from fracking and other oil production activities. Senator Fran Pavley, whose SB 4 (passed in 2013) compelled the report in the first place, has taken the lead on crafting policy to address the report's findings.

Early this year, she authored Senate Bill 248 as a response to the State failing to protect drinking water from oil and gas injection wells. Now, after moving the bill through the Senate in June and its first Assembly committee earlier this month, Senator Pavley has indicated that she will strengthen the bill to directly respond to the revelations in the study. The bill would mandate a number of crucial safeguards and oversight improvements such as:

  • Prohibiting disposal of oil and gas waste in unlined pits.
  • Increasing data collection of chemicals used in oil and gas well treatments and injections.
  • Limiting the unchecked use of harmful chemicals in oil and gas operations.
  • Shutting down illegal injection wells that threaten drinking water, if the state doesn't investigate them on their committed timeline.

We've been ringing the alarm bells on unlined pits and injection wells for the last year, so we applaud Senator Pavley's leadership in working to address the oil industry's reckless wastewater disposal practices.

A major test awaits SB 248 in the Assembly, where our recent attempt to protect water from the oil industry was defeated. AB 356 succumbed to the usual corporate pressure from the oil industry. But now, the science is clear and justifies action. Will the Legislature listen? Here in California, we expect our elected officials to listen to the science, not the money, but we can't count on them without turning up the pressure. We know they are hearing from Big Oil. They need to hear from YOU.

Make sure your Legislator hears from you today. Take action and let them know that the science is clear and that they need to support SB 248.