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Wyoming, Colorado Ask Court to Block BLM Fracking Rule

Late last Friday, Wyoming and Colorado filed in federal court for a preliminary injunction to block a new hydraulic fracturing rule on public and tribal lands from taking effect later this month.

The states joined earlier filings made by the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) and Western Energy Alliance (WEA), which filed for similar injunctions on May 15. The states' filing was made in the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming.

Earlier this year, Colorado joined Wyoming and North Dakota in challenging the federal Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) proposed fracking rules on public and tribal lands (see Shale Daily, April 28). IPAA and WEA in March filed a lawsuit to set aside the proposed BLM regulations.

A week later, Wyoming filed its own lawsuit, which was subsequently joined by North Dakota (see Shale Daily, April 16; March 26). Under the federal process, the new BLM rule is scheduled to be effective June 24.

"Wyoming has led the way in creating safe, responsible rules for hydraulic fracturing -- rules that have been in place for years," Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead said last Friday. Mead said "it makes sense" to delay the BLM rule's effective date until states' arguments are resolved, contending that letting the rule become effective "complicates compliance and hurts our economy."

The federal government will have until June 12 to file a response to the states' motion in district court unless the court grants the extension of the deadline, Mead said.

In its initial court challenge, IPAA sought to have the BLM rule set aside, calling it “a reaction to unsubstantiated concerns.” IPAA has argued that the administrative record behind the rule "lacks the factual, scientific, or engineering evidence" needed to sustain the agency’s action.

The industry and the various producing states contend that the states have "an outstanding record" for protecting the environment and safeguarding the public. "This new rule is simply another regulatory overreach by the Obama Administration that will hurt America’s oil and natural gas producers," IPAA officials have said in actively opposing the measure.

“States have been successfully regulating fracking for decades, including on federal lands, with no incident that necessitates redundant federal regulation,” said WEA President Tim Wigley, who questioned whether BLM had the staff and expertise to take on an added regulatory job.

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