Today: Meeting Broadcast: Underground Injection

Today, 1-4pm, the first meeting of the Advisory Panel for the California Underground Injection Control (UIC) program will be publicly broadcast HERE. 

This panel will be part of the mandated reform taking place, and will be seeking public input. CFROG will be submitting comments that will include a request that local community meetings be part of the information gathering process so those most likely to be impacted by underground injection policies will have an opportunity to speak to the panel. 

This panel was formed pursuant to new legislation (SB83) and this is the first meeting. HERE is information on the panel.  And here is the public notice about todays meeting. The panel consists of several member from the environmental sector, as well as the president of the industry lobbying group Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA). 


Photo: Existing oil and gas wells in the Sespe Oil Field, credit: Los Padres ForestWatch

The UIC program is how oil companies get permission from the State of California and the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to inject into underground aquifers. When they get permission to inject, it allows the oil company to inject oil field waste (including fracking waste, biocides, detergents etc. that are used in standard oil and gas production) and to conduct enhanced extraction processes that use injection.

Some of these aquifers are protected under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and injection is or should be prohibited, while other aquifers qualify for exemption from the SDWA. The UIC program, governs the application process that the oil company must go through to "exempt" an aquifer from the SDWA so that they can be allowed to inject. 

Our state oil and gas regulator, the Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) along with the State Water Board are the first step in the application process. If those two agencies, concur that an application should be granted, it is passed through to to Region 9 of the EPA, where the ultimate decision is made. 

HERE is information about the Sespe Aquifer Exemption pending application and the timeline up to today. The oil company is seeking an exemption to be allowed to inject into an area that comes within 1/2 mile of the only source of drinking and irrigation water for the community of Fillmore.  

The UIC program also governs cyclic steam/steam injection - the process being used on the Oxnard Plain. A proposed project on Sturgis Road will expand (from 5 to 79, and ultimately - according to oil company - 200 injection wells) the current injection project and review under the UIC program will be required. 

Here is information on that project on Sturgis Road: