NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Court Sides with Fracking

October 15, 2015

A federal judge in Wyoming blocked Interior Department rules setting stricter standards for hydraulic fracturing on public lands, the second set of major regulations from the Obama administration to be faulted in court in as many months.

U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl issued a preliminary injunction barring implementation of the rules, saying the Interior Department lacked the authority to issue them.

Fracking involves injecting water, sand and chemicals into a well to break up dense rock and release oil and natural gas. Energy companies have employed the technology for decades, but increased use of it has helped unlock vast reserves of oil and natural gas across the U.S. in recent years. Fracking is controversial among environmentalists and some landowners, who worry about water contamination and continued dependence on fossil fuels.

The rules set stricter standards for disposing of wastewater and disclosing chemicals used in fracking and were slated to go into effect this summer.

Drilling on private or state-owned land wasn't subject to the new federal standards, but federal officials have said they hope the Interior Department's fracking rule could provide a common baseline throughout the U.S., an effort that this latest ruling casts doubt on. Most energy-producing states such as Colorado, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Texas regulate fracking already, but there are no national standards.

Source: Amy Harder, "Federal Court Blocks Obama Administration's Fracking Rule," Wall Street Journal, September 30, 2015.


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