BLM Announces Replacement of Proposed Fracking Rules

On Friday, January 18, 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management announced that it would replace its prior May 2012 proposal with revised rules on the use of hydraulic fracturing.

The Bureau’s spokesman, Blake Androff, stated that the initial draft proposal was revised based on “comments from stakeholders and the public.” 

The Bureau received over 170,000 comments in response to the original proposal. Androff made clear that the updated rule would maintain the components of the initial proposal—including the mandatory disclosure by operators of the fluids used in the fracturing process.

Oil companies and state officials had opposed the withdrawn proposals, and various organizations voiced agreement with the Bureau’s decision to revise its proposed rule. 

American Petroleum Institute President and CEO Jack Gerard praised the announcement, stating that the Bureau’s reconsideration was “a positive first step.” The API had formally commented on the original proposal, requesting extensive changes to the rule.

The Western Energy Alliance also applauded the decision to revise the hydraulic fracturing rules. The WEA had estimated that the annual cost of the original proposal would have amounted to $1.5 billion. The WEA then reiterated its view that, because of state regulation, a federal fracturing rule is unnecessary.

The revised rule was submitted for review to the Office of Management and Budget on January 22, 2013, and is expected to be published in the Federal Register in the first quarter of this year.

This article was prepared by Barclay Nicholson ( or 713 651 3662) Rafe A. Schaefer ( or 713 651 5255) from Fulbright's Litigation Practice Group.