Judge in Wyoming blocks federal fracking rule


A federal judge has issued an injunction against new Department of Interior regulations for hydraulic fracturing on federal land. 

Judge Scott Skavdahl of the U.S. District Court of Wyoming ruled Wednesday that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) cannot institute its new fracking rule until lawsuits against it are settled. 

In a 53-page opinion, Skavdahl cast doubt on the federal government’s ability to issue the rule. He issued the injunction because he decided the states and industry groups suing against the rule proved it would harm their operations and that their lawsuit is likely to succeed on its merits.

In his opinion, Skadvahl said he doesn’t think the Interior Department has the right to regulate fracking on federal land because Congress had, at one point, taken that power away from another agency.

“One of the fundamental questions presented in this case is whether Congress granted or delegated to the BLM the authority or jurisdiction to regulate fracking - despite having specifically removed such authority in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 from another federal agency [the Environmental Protection Agency],” he wrote. 

“At this point, the Court does not believe Congress has granted or delegated to the BLM authority to regulate fracking

… It is hard to analytically conclude or infer that, having expressly removed the regulatory authority from the EPA, Congress intended to vest it in the BLM, particularly where the BLM had not previously been regulating the practice.” 

The rule will now be put on hold while the courts decide the underlying lawsuits around it. (by Devin Henry, The Hill)

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