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Summary of CalGEM SB 406 Implementation Legislative Report

The SB 406 Implementation Legislative Report (2023) outlines the progress and activities of the California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) in complying with Senate Bill (SB) 406, which mandates transparency and improved data accessibility regarding oil, gas, and geothermal operations primarily by publicly posting information collected or maintained to the CalGEM’s website. SB 406 is mandated to be implemented by July 1, 2026.

Objective and Scope

SB 406, enacted in 2021, requires CalGEM to make all public information available online, specifically emphasizing well records, inspection reports, and violation notices.

This report provides the first annual progress update on the implementation of Senate Bill (SB) 406 (Stern, Chapter 727, Statutes 2021) by CalGEM.

The report covers implementation activities from January 1, 2022, to April 30, 2023.

Data Availability

  • By July 1, 2026, CalGEM must ensure all public information is accessible on their website. This includes well records, logs, inspection reports, and notices of violation, organized and searchable by well, operator, or project. As of the report's date, significant progress has been made in digitizing and providing access to well records and related data through the WellSTAR platform and other online tools.

Local Government Education and Outreach

  • CalGEM has implemented educational programs and outreach initiatives to local governments, explaining how to access and use data related to oil and gas operations. They conducted workshops and created resources to improve understanding of their systems. These workshops included public tutorials on how to use their online data platforms WellStar and Well Finder.

  • A “Community Concern” webpage and mailbox also gives the public an opportunity to report non-emergency concerns, problems or complaints. CalGEM also holds local government outreach meetings, gathering with representatives from the community and local committees to present information of interest related to oil and gas operations.

Technological Tools Used

  • CalGEM has developed several online tools, such as the WellSTAR Public Access Portal, the WellSTAR Data Dashboard, and the Well Finder mapping application, to facilitate public access to well and permit data. Training materials, including YouTube tutorials, have been provided to help users navigate these systems.

Notice Of Intentions (NOI) and Agency Permits

  • Through SB 406, it was required that well operators are responsible for providing documentation to CalGEM indicating that an applicable local agency permit has been obtained. The WellSTAR online platform, as currently developed, allows online submission of permits for review. However, inconsistent practices by local agencies (not all local agencies issue permits) provide a roadblock for this program. Rather than utilize the WellSTAR platform, CalGEM has implemented an engagement protocol with key jurisdictions to confirm and make part of the record accurate local land use permitting documentation.

Acid Treatment Data

  • The report specifies that well histories must include all acid treatment data. Current regulations already address the reporting requirements for such treatments. These records are available in WellSTAR. CalGEM also released a Request for Information (RFI) in 2022 and received seven written comments from interested parties. After analysis, responses to comments, and a virtual meeting, CalGEM concluded that existing regulations already address the most relevant concerns regarding the acid treatment of wells.

Electronic Submissions

  • By July 1, 2023, all operators are required to electronically submit data pertaining to the well, such as the source, volume, treatment, and disposition of water produced in oil and gas activities, to CalGEM. The WellSTAR system supports these submissions, and workshops have been conducted to guide operators in complying with this requirement.

Complaint Investigation

  • CalGEM must investigate well complaints received from any person living within one mile of the well. A formal process for handling complaints has been established, ensuring all received complaints are investigated. This formal process includes evaluating pertinent pictures or documents, field inspections, Notice of Violations (if necessary), and follow up with complainant on satisfaction of corrective actions.

Assessment Information

  • The assessment rate is established in June of each year. It is based on CalGem’s estimated budget for the ensuing fiscal year and the total amount of assessable oil and gas produced during the prior calendar year. This rate is then imposed on each barrel of oil and each 10,000 cubic feet of natural gas produced. Assessment notices are then prepared and sent to each producer before June 15 each year.

  • SB 406 requires the Department to post information supporting the assessment rate. Information supporting the annual assessment rates for oil and gas production, used to fund CalGEM, is now posted online to comply with SB 406.

For more information, contact Sean Wallentine.


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