Judge Strikes Down Federal Fracking Rule

Jun 21, 2016

Credit Joshua Doubek / Wikimedia Commons

A U.S. District Court judge in Wyoming has struck down a rule that would have governed fracking on federal lands.

Judge Scott Skavdahl concluded in his ruling that the Department of the Interior does not have the authority to regulate fracking and called the attempt to do so an “end-run” around the 2005 Energy Policy Act. That law explicitly exempted fracking from regulation by another arm of the executive branch—the Environmental Protection Agency.

Among other things, the Interior rule would have required more testing of wells on federal lands, to ensure they don’t leak, as well the disclosure of chemicals used in fracking.

Wyoming, Colorado and North Dakota were among the states that sued to have the rule set aside. The states argued that not only would the federal regulations be duplicative, but that they would interfere with existing state policies. They were joined in their appeal by several industry groups, including the Independent Petroleum Association of America. 

Although the rule was scheduled to go into effect last year, Skavdahl issued a stay while considering the case. 

The Department of the Interior could appeal the ruling.