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BLM Fracking Rule Struck Down by Federal Judge

A hydraulic fracking well extracts resources at a North Dakota oil field. (iStockphoto)
A hydraulic fracking well extracts resources at a North Dakota oil field. (iStockphoto)
June 23, 2016

BISMARCK, N.D. – In a blow to the Obama administration's environmental agenda, a federal judge has struck down the Bureau of Land Management's fracking rules, saying that the president overstepped his authority.

The judge ruled late Tuesday that the agency needs permission from Congress to regulate fracking, and noted that legislators previously denied the Environmental Protection Agency the right to regulate the practice under the Clean Water Act.

Clare Lakewood, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, says that argument doesn't hold up.

"It's an outlier of a decision,” she states. “Frankly, there is plenty of authority that BLM has the authority to make rules with regard to fossil fuel extraction on its land, including fracking. And we are confident this will be overturned on appeal."

The rules were already on hold after the same judge issued a preliminary injunction last year.

Several oil and gas producing states, and a Native American tribe, brought the case. They argued that the rules were unnecessary since the states already have the authority to regulate fracking.

Lakewood says the rules would have guaranteed the public more information on the chemicals used, some of which are linked to respiratory disease and cancer.

"It would require disclosure of certain of the chemicals that are used in hydraulic fracturing,” she states. “That's really important because we know that a lot of the chemicals are toxic to humans and the environment."

The rules would also require all fracking wastewater be stored in above ground tanks, instead of in containment pits that have the potential to leak and contaminate groundwater.

The Department of the Interior is expected to appeal the ruling.



Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - ND