In a victory for oil and gas producers, a federal judge has ruled that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) does not have the authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing on federal and Indian lands
The ruling came in a lawsuit filed last year by the Western Energy Alliance, the Independent Petroleum Association of America, and Native American tribes in several western states.
U.S. District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl said the BLM could not regulate fracking because Congress had not given the agency the power to do so. “Indeed, Congress has expressly removed federal agency authority to regulate the activity, making its intent clear,” he wrote.
Barry Russell, President and CEO of the IPAA, lauded the judge’s ruling, which affects oil and gas production on federal and Indian lands nationwide.
“America’s energy renaissance has been one of the key components in revitalizing our economy,” Russell said, “and keeping that momentum going has been U.S. independent oil and natural gas producers’ top priority.”
He added, “IPAA has long-said that the federal government’s attempt to regulate hydraulic fracturing is unnecessary, duplicative, and would further drive independent producers from federal lands.”
When the lawsuit was filed in March of 2015, shortly after the BLM issued its regulations, Tim Wigley, President of WEA, said BLM had “neither the resources nor the expertise” to regulate fracking. “If anything, BLM should be delegating more to the states in recognition of their exemplary environmental and safety records,” he said.