Opposition to federal fracking rules grows

Earlier this year, the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released its final version of rules governing hydraulic fracturing on federal land. As discussed in a previous post, these rules will not only impose heightened requirements on drilling operations but also increase the reporting duties for drilling operators. Shortly after the BLM released its proposal, the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) and Western Energy Alliance (WEA) sued the BLM in Wyoming to challenge the proposed rules. The IPAA and WEA argued that the BLM’s rules are unnecessary because states adequately regulate hydraulic fracturing. The IPAA and WEA have also alleged that the BLM’s final rules are unsubstantiated.

A second lawsuit was later filed by Wyoming against the BLM. In its petition for review of the BLM’s fracking rules, Wyoming stated that the BLM exceeded its authority and its fracking rules would hamper state regulation of hydraulic fracturing. Specifically, Wyoming has argued that the BLM’s authority under the Mineral Leasing Act and the Federal and Policy and Management Act do not authorize the agency to enact the hydraulic fracturing rules. According to Wyoming, the BLM’s rules also conflict with the Safe Water Drinking Act, which grants states the exclusive right to regulate underground injections. North Dakota later joined Wyoming’s petition for review. North Dakota has stated that it is one of the largest oil and gas producers in the United States and the BLM’s rules inhibit the state’s ability to regulate hydraulic fracturing in the state.

The opposition to the United States Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) rules for hydraulic fracturing is growing. Colorado has also joined the lawsuit challenging the BLM’s new rules for hydraulic fracturing. Cynthia Coffman, the Attorney General for Colorado, describes the BLM’s rules as an encroachment on an area that has historically been regulated by states. Coffman further noted that Colorado has sufficient regulations governing hydraulic fracturing. In addition, Coffman stated that although hydraulic fracturing should be regulated, the BLM lacked the authority to enact the rules.

Read the amended petition for review.

This post was written by Barclay Nicholson (barclay.nicholson@nortonrosefulbright.com or 713 651 3662) and Johnjerica Hodge (johnjerica.hodge@nortonrosefulbright.com or 713 651 5698) from Norton Rose Fulbright's Energy Practice Group.