Thursday, March 24, 2016

Obama administration says court erred in halting fracking regulations on public and tribal lands

The Obama administration says a Wyoming-based court made a legal error when it ruled last year that the Bureau of Land Management does not have the authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing on public and tribal lands, Timothy Cama reports for The Hill. Lawyers representing BLM are asking the Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver to overturn the decision and allow regulators to enforce regulations designed to improve well design standards, ensure wastewater is properly protected and require drillers to disclose fracking chemicals. Various states and the oil and natural gas industry argued "that Congress has expressly prohibited the federal government from regulating fracking, even on federal and American Indian land, as the BLM did early last year."

Lawyers for BLM wrote: “The district court held that Congress has ‘directly spoken to the issue and precluded federal agency authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing not involving the use of diesel fuels.’ That was legal error. Congress has never directly spoken to BLM’s authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing on federal and Indian lands. Congress instead delegated BLM broad authority to regulate all oil and gas operations on federal and Indian lands. Congress has not carved hydraulic fracturing out of that express delegation of authority.”

“Because Congress has never excluded hydraulic fracturing from BLM’s expressly delegated authority, the district court erred,” lawyers wrote “Furthermore, substantial scientific and technical evidence in the record supports BLM’s expert conclusion that today’s greatly expanded hydraulic-fracturing operations pose a risk to groundwater, especially if well casings are inadequately designed or constructed.” (Read more)

No comments: