Last week, California Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson amended the bill she introduced earlier this year to further regulate the management of water produced in fracking operations.As amended, SB 395 would eliminate the exemption from underground injection control (UIC) regulations for wells regulated by the Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) and used for the disposal of water associated with fracking activities. The amended SB 395 also would exclude from the definition of oilfield wastewater any material containing hazardous waste. This would effectively prohibit the disposal of fracking wastewater containing hazardous waste by injection and subject the disposal of any water produced in fracking operations to UIC regulations.
Like the prior version of the bill (see March 8, 2013 post), the amended bill would continue to define “produced water” broadly (any fluid that is emitted from an oil or gas production well), and could be interpreted to include even natural groundwater brought up during oil and gas operations. Under the amended bill, this definition would mean that the injection of any water brought up during oil and gas operations would be subject to UIC regulation. The amended bill would also shift the prior focus from regulating fracking wastewater as hazardous waste to regulating fracking wastewater disposal. Specifically, it would prohibit the injection of any wastewater containing hazardous waste.