The Obama administration hasn’t been shy about pursuing its own environmental agenda. Between Climate Talks in Paris, the Clean Power Plan, and a number of new rules set forth by the EPA, it has made so many bold strokes that push back was inevitable and it was only a matter of time before fracking became a talking point.
The latest court challenge is the blocking of an Interior Department rule setting stricter standards for hydraulic fracturing on public lands by a federal judge in Wyoming. U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl, whom President Barack Obama nominated in 2011, issued a ruling late Tuesday saying the Interior Department lacked the authority to issue the rule without Congressional approval.
Mr. Skavdahl, said the issue was not whether or not fracking “is good or bad for the environment or the citizens of the United States,” but rather whether Congress had given the Interior Department the authority to regulate fracking.
The ruling highlights the issue of presidential executive power expanding into areas where Congress would traditionally have more say on the grounds that the legislature is unwilling or unable to agree on essential legislation. Since the government is expected to appeal and send the case as high as the Supreme Court, the issue of White House overreaching will definitely see more debate. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has vowed to double down on President Obama’s agenda and will nominate at least one Supreme Court Justice if she wins in November as current polls suggest she will.
The blocked regulation applies to oil and gas drilling on federal lands, which produce 11% of the natural gas consumed in the U.S. and 5% of the oil, according to government data.
Fracking is still regulated by older federal standards and subject to any rules that states have put in place