Thursday, January 12, 2017

Hearing on Obama administration's fracking regulations to be held after his presidency ends

The court date for the Obama administration's proposed regulations on horizontal hydraulic fracturing on public and tribal lands has been pushed back until after Donald Trump's inauguration, meaning "the Obama administration will no longer have the opportunity to defend its signature fracking regulation," Ellen Gilmer reports for Energywire. The court date, originally scheduled for Jan. 17, was moved to March 22 to allow extra argument time.

"The Bureau of Land Management rule sets new requirements for well construction, wastewater management and chemical disclosure for fracked wells on public and tribal lands, and was the administration's most high-profile attempt to increase oversight as fracking and horizontal drilling took hold across the country," Gilmer writes. "The rule was finalized in March 2015 and immediately challenged in court by states, industry and tribes."

A district court in Wyoming ruled in 2015 that the Obama administration does not have the authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing on public lands, but the administration said the court made a legal error.

"It's unclear how the Trump administration plans to approach the case," Gilmer writes. "His administration could continue to defend the rule in court—a possibility some experts consider likely because the litigation focuses not just on the regulation but on the high-stakes question of whether BLM has authority over fracking." Officials with the U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Department of Justice "could also move to settle the lawsuit with states, industry and the Ute Indian Tribe. In an extreme scenario, Trump could withdraw the rule before oral arguments." (Read more)

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