In the absence of statewide regulations for hydraulic fracturing, Southern California air-quality officials have enacted their own reporting rules for the controversial extraction process driving the country’s oil and gas boom.
On Friday, the governing board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District adopted a rulethat requires oil companies to notify the air agency 10 days to 24 hours before beginning drilling operations, including “fracking,” which involves injecting large volumes of chemical-laced water and sand deep into the ground to break apart rock and release oil.
Oil refiners are sending greater amounts of an especially dirty crude oil product called “tar sands” to their Southern California refineries.
Now environmental groups want regulators to take a closer look
Tar sands hold a kind of semi-solid petroleum. To refine it enough for California standards takes more processing. Oil companies – including Valero, Tesoro and Conoco Phillips – say they’re bringing in more of this raw material because liquid petroleum in California is drying up.
Valero Energy Corp. has notified California environmental officials that it will need to flare gases at its Wilmington refinery for the next two days.
Valero is required to notify the South Coast Air Quality Management District, an air pollution control agency, whenever it needs to conduct flaring that would exceed daily limits. The flaring will be necessary while repair work is being conducted on a valve at a storage facility.