Monday, September 25, 2023
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Oil Industry Fights|New Fracking Regs

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (CN) - The gas and oil industry claims a new Bureau of Land Management rule regulating fracking on federal land places "arbitrary and unnecessary burdens" on it.

The Independent Petroleum Association of America and the Western Energy Alliance sued Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and the Bureau of Land Management on March 20 in Federal Court.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, involves drilling and injecting water, sand and chemicals into the ground at high pressure to fracture rocks, extracting oil and natural gas from shale deposits.

Opponents claim that fracking pollutes drinking water and soil, and requires the misuse of millions of gallons of water.

The new regulation - No. 1004-AE26 - has provisions requiring validation of well integrity, disclosure of chemicals used in the process, higher standards for interim fluid waste storage and measures to lower the risk of cross-well contamination.

"Current federal well-drilling regulations are more than 30 years old and they simply have not kept pace with the technical complexities of today's hydraulic fracturing operations," Secretary Jewell said in a March 20 press statement.

"This updated and strengthened rule provides a framework of safeguards and disclosure protocols that will allow for the continued responsible development of our federal oil and gas resources. As we continue to offer millions of acres of public lands for conventional and renewable energy production, it is absolutely critical the public have confidence that transparent and effective safety and environmental protections are in place."

But the energy groups seek court review of the regulation, claiming it is based on unproven environmental claims and that it duplicates laws.

"BLM's rulemaking represents a reaction to unsubstantiated concerns and the administrative record lacks the factual, scientific or engineering evidence necessary to sustain the agency's final rule," the complaint states. "The rulemaking has been procedurally deficient and the final rule as issued is contrary to law. Because the regulatory conditions the final rule imposes constitute arbitrary and unnecessary burdens that either duplicate state law requirements or improperly curtail the primary jurisdiction of state governments, and because the regulations are not properly tailored to achieve a legitimate government purpose, the court should find the rule invalid and set aside the challenged agency action."

They sued under the Administrative Procedures Act.

They are represented by L. Poe Leggette, with Baker & Hostetler, in Denver.

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