Threat to groundwater posed by improperly sited oil injection wells to be explored at Senate oversight hearing

March 6, 2015

Sacramento – Sen. Bob Wieckowski and Sen. Fran Pavley will co-chair a joint oversight hearing of the Senate Environmental Quality, and Natural Resources and Water committees Tuesday to focus on groundwater protection in the wake of acknowledgements that several oil and gas-related injected wells were improperly sited and pose a risk of contaminating quality groundwater used for drinking water and agricultural purposes.

“To date, 23 oil and gas waste disposal wells have been ordered to be shut in and it is clear that steps must be taken to improve the oversight of these injection wells and adequately protect the public health and safety,” Wieckowski said.

The state has approximately 50,000 underground injection wells in California, the majority used for operations to spur oil and gas production.  Wastewater produced by the extraction is disposed of in roughly 1,500 injection waste disposal wells.  The state Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) implements the Underground Injection Control Program.   Federal regulators have found serious deficiencies with the state’s oversight of the underground injection wells.

WHO:             Senator  Bob Wieckowski and Senator Fran Pavley

                      Mark Nechodom, Director, Department of Conservation

                      Jonathan Bishop, Chief Deputy Director, State Water Resources Control Board

                      Matthew Rodriquez, Secretary, California Environmental Protection Agency

                      John Laird, Secretary, California Natural Resources Agency

WHAT:           Senate Environmental Quality and Senate Natural Resources and Water Joint         

                      Oversight Hearing – “Ensuring Groundwater Protection:  Is the Underground

                      Injection Control Program Working?”

WHERE:         State Capitol, John L. Burton Hearing Room (4203)

WHEN:           9:30 a.m., Tuesday, March 10, 2015