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US court: BLM does not have authority to regulate fracturing on federal lands

US District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl this week struck down the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) final rule on hydraulic fracturing. Judge Skavdahl agreed with the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA), Western Energy Alliance, four oil-producing states and an Indian tribe that BLM does not have the congressional authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing on federal lands.

IPAA President and CEO Barry Russell issued the following statement: “America’s energy renaissance has been one of the key components in revitalizing our economy and keeping that momentum going has been US independent oil and natural gas producers’ top priority. IPAA has long said that the federal government’s attempt to regulate hydraulic fracturing is unnecessary, duplicative and would further drive independent producers from federal lands. Hydraulic fracturing technology has been around since 1947, and regulation of the practice has been conducted safely and responsibly throughout the United States for over 60 years. Independent producers are good stewards of our lands. We recognize that every energy-producing area has different needs and requirements, which is why the states are far more effective at properly regulating hydraulic fracturing than the federal government. And many of these states have modernized their regulations within the last ten years.

“The judge could not have been more clear when he ruled, ‘Congress has not directed the BLM to enact regulations governing hydraulic fracturing. Indeed, Congress has expressly removed federal agency authority to regulate the activity, making its intent clear.’

“We’re pleased to see the judge set aside the Interior Department’s final rule as it does not have congressional authority to police this already strictly regulated practice.”

The judge’s decision is available on IPAA’s website.

IPAA and Western Energy Alliance filed a lawsuit in March 2015 challenging the federal rule, with Colorado, North Dakota, Utah, Wyoming and the Ute Indian Tribe signing onto the challenge.

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