After a federal judge’s ruling blocked efforts to institute new fracking rules for public lands. the Obama administration is getting ready to bring the case to higher courts.
The case will likely follow the same path as the Clean Power Plan which recieved a stay from the Supreme Court until a final decision is made sometime next year. The CPP, which focuses on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, and another case focusing on what waters are under U.S. jurisdiction are only a couple of the instances of new rules that are attracting conflict.
The fracking rule would have forced companies to disclose the chemicals they pump underground and seal off waste water in storage tanks. Judge Skavdahl, an Obama appointee, said the fracking rule exceeded the Bureau of Land Management’s powers.
While oil industry groups hailed the ruling as victory for state control over regulation and claimed that the rules would have unnecessarily doubled up with existing standards, Environmentalists supporting the rule said the additional rules are needed to safeguard water supplies as fracking activity expands.
The ruling may affect other issues facing the Bureau of Land Management. With the decision comes a precedent for questioning the BLM’s authority in blocking companies from burning or releasing natural gas at oil wells on federal lands.
Environmentalists that have lobbied the BLM to crack down on methane emissions from natural gas say the agency has the right to regulate based on a 1920 law governing U.S. mineral leasing that gives the power “to prevent waste of oil or gas” developed on federal lands. It is questionable if higher courts will accept that argument.
The cases are State of Wyoming v. U.S. Department of the Interior, 15-cv-43, U.S. District Court, District of Wyoming (Casper) and Independent Petroleum Association of America v. Jewell, 15-cv-41, U.S. District Court, District of Wyoming (Casper).