Trump to repeal Obama fracking rule

The Trump administration has issued notice that it intends to repeal the 2015 Obama administration rule governing hydraulic fracturing on federal lands.  The rule was issued by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

The fracking rule never went into effect because the jurisdiction of BLM was challenged in court.  Now that it's coming off the books, court challenges will almost certainly be dropped.

The Hill:

The BLM's notice does not take a position on whether the agency ever had legal authority to enforce the law.  Republicans and the oil industry say that it did not, as did a federal judge in Wyoming who overturned the rule, only to be later overruled on appeal.

The 2015 rule came after years of deliberations within the Obama administration over how to deal with fracking.  The practice, in which fluids are forced underground at high pressure to recover oil and natural gas, has grown dramatically in recent years, leading to a massive domestic oil and gas boom.

Environmentalists argue that fracking can be dangerous for groundwater, soil[,] and air.  Federal research, including a major Environmental Protection Agency study, found that such contamination can happen, but is far from common.

The Obama rule focused mainly on three areas: mandating that companies disclose the chemicals they use to frack, requiring them to cover surface ponds that house fracking fluids[,] and setting standards for the construction of the wells.

The regulation never took effect.  Wyoming federal [j]udge Scott Skavdahl put it on hold in 2015, before overturning it in 2016.

The oil and gas industry applauded the repeal.

"The rescinding of this burdensome rule, which was never enacted due to IPAA and Western Energy Alliance's ongoing legal challenge, will save our member companies and those operating on federal lands hundreds of millions of dollars in compliance costs without any corresponding safety benefits," Barry Russell, president of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, said in a statement.

"It was clear from the start that the federal rule was redundant with state regulation and politically motivated, as the prior administration could not point to one incident or regulatory gap that justified the rule," said Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance.

Fracking has made the United States the number-one fossil fuel-producing nation in the world.  That millions of acres of federal land will now be open to fracking companies will only cement our position.

The rule represented typical bureaucratic overreach.  Environmentalists couldn't convince the EPA to limit fracking so they tried to use the BLM to advance their agenda.  The BLM had no business sticking its nose into an environmental issue that was already being regulated under federal and state law.  Now fracking on federal lands will be treated the same as drilling on private land.

This is great news for states like Wyoming and North Dakota that are already heavily involved in fracking.  And fees paid by drilling companies will fill the coffers of the government.  It's a win-win situation and another blow to the Obama-era regulatory regime. 

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