District Court Dismisses BLM Hydraulic Fracturing Case
A federal district court dismissed an appeals case that sought to preserve hydraulic fracturing rules issued by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) during the Obama Administration.
Citing a “wasteful use of limited judicial resources,” the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals decided not to hear the case since the Trump Administration has already announced its intention to reverse the Obama-era rules in their entirety.
In 2016, a federal judge struck down the federal fracturing regulations, concluding that “Congress has not delegated to the Department of Interior the authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing.” The Obama Administration appealed that ruling, but the Trump Administration later indicated it planned to repeal the regulation in a court filing.
BLM issued a plan to withdraw federal regulations on oil and natural gas development on public lands in July. Many groups and lawmakers had spoken out against the rules due to their duplicative nature, since the federal requirements would have gone into effect as an addendum to existing state law.
“Today’s court decision confirms what IPAA has advocated all along: Dismissing the appeal would protect independent producers from the uncertainty of whether it was necessary to comply with regulations that are certain to be revoked,” The Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) wrote in a statement responding to the ruling. “All three judges ruled unanimously that it would be a waste of judicial resources to proceed with this case. Today’s appeal validates the overreach taken by the Obama administration and that the regulatory process was flawed from the very beginning.”
IPAA along with the Western Energy Alliance, a supporter of Western Wire, the Ute Indian Tribe and attorneys general representing the states of Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and North Dakota had all challenged the federal fracking regulations in court.
“We’re pleased that after today, IPAA and Western Energy Alliance are even closer to finally putting BLM’s ill-conceived fracking rule to bed,” said Kathleen Sgamma, president of Western Energy Alliance.
“As with the royalty valuation rule that was recently completely rescinded, there are some technicalities to work through in the short term, but just as the court recognizes that it is not worthwhile to expend judicial resources on a rule that is being overturned, it is clear that implementing the rule in the short term is likewise a waste of industry and government resources,” said Sgamma.
BLM had estimated that complying with the 2015 regulations would cost the oil and gas industry between $32 million and $43 million per year.