On Friday, July 10, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) released updated emergency Oil Spill Response Organization (ORSO) Rating regulations as part of OSPR’s expanded authority under SB 861.

SB 861, passed through the California legislature in June of last year, extends oil spill protections previously available only to California’s coastal and marine waters to all inland waters of the state.  The bill was passed in direct response to rising shipments of crude oil and petroleum products across state lands.  Among other changes, the bill increases protections for wildlife injured by inland spills, paid for by a 6.5 cent fee on every barrel of crude that arrives in California, and erases the distinction between coastal and inland oil spills for purposes of administrative penalties.  The bill also requires that OSPR produce an updated oil spill contingency plan for all state waters by January 1, 2017.

To meet SB 861’s directive, OSPR has been developing emergency regulations to be put into place while final rulemaking proceeds.  Industry players should expect that, beyond extending existing coastal regulations to cover inland areas, California regulators will take this opportunity to make additional changes to oil spill regulations that will apply in both coastal and inland zones.  Interested parties should also keep an eye on to whom the new regulations will apply.  For example, open questions to be resolved in the coming months include whether or not certain inland facilities will fall within OSPR’s expanded jurisdiction (based on factors such as facility operations, geography, and proximity to state waters), and, if so, which parties will be subject to the new regulations (i.e. the fueling operator or the owner of the fuel).

In the meantime, the emergency rules for OSRO Ratings released this past Friday are available for viewing here: https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/documents/ContextDocs.aspx?cat=OSPR-Exec&sub=RegsProposedLang.

OSPR will hold two outreach workshops on July 21, 2015 and July 28, 2015 in Bakersfield and Los Alamitos, respectively, to receive feedback from industry stakeholders on the draft regulations.