Thursday, March 16, 2017

Trump administration to withdraw, rewrite Obama regulation on fracking on federal land

The Trump administration plans to withdraw and rewrite a 2015 Obama Administration rule "aimed at limiting hydraulic fracturing on public lands," Juliet Eilperin reports for The Washington Post. The regulation required companies that drill on federal and tribal lands to "be subject to stricter design standards for wells and for holding tanks and ponds where liquid wastes are stored. They also would be forced to report which chemicals they were pumping into the ground."

Last June a federal judge in Wyoming ruled that the Interior Department "had exceeded its congressional mandate in choosing to regulate the controversial drilling practice," Eilperin writes. "While Obama administration officials appealed that decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, the appeals court asked the Bureau of Land Management on March 9 if the agency’s position had changed now that Trump is in office."

"On Wednesday, Justice Department lawyers representing Interior and BLM asked the court to 'continue the oral argument and hold these appeals in abeyance pending a new rulemaking' on the issue," Eilperin writes. "The attorneys noted that Interior officials were already reviewing the regulation to mesh with Trump’s agenda."

The motion reads: “As part of this process, the department has begun reviewing the 2015 final rule (and all guidance issued pursuant thereto) for consistency with the policies and priorities of the new administration. This initial review has revealed that the 2015 final rule does not reflect those policies and priorities," Eilperin writes. It said "the department will 'soon' be issuing a notice in the Federal Register to announce it will be rescinding the rule and writing a new one."

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