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BLM Fights State, Industry Calls to Delay Federal Frack Rules

The Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is pushing back against state and industry calls for an injunction against the federal hydraulic fracturing (fracking) rule that is scheduled to take effect this month.

BLM attorneys filed a brief last week in U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming, arguing that a motion by states for the injunction “falls far short of standards" normally applied to obtaining extraordinary remedy. The states have not established that "irreparable harm" would happen unless the new rule in blocked.

A hearing on the injunction is set for Tuesday in Casper, WY.

North Dakota, Wyoming and Colorado officials had asked for the injunction, which the North Dakota attorney general claimed would cost his state "hundreds of millions of dollars" if the rules were implemented (see Shale DailyJune 12). Utah was allowed to join the lawsuit on Tuesday.

Earlier this year the states jointly challenged the now-final BLM fracking rule, which would allow fracking on federal and tribal lands (see Shale Daily, April 28). Similar lawsuits were filed in March by the Independent Petroleum Association of America and the Western Energy Alliance.

"A preliminary injunction is an extraordinary and drastic remedy, one that should not be granted unless the [states], by a clear showing, carry the burden of persuasion," BLM argued, citing a 1997 ruling (Mazurek v Armstrong).

BLM attacked testimony from Wyoming's assistant state oil and gas supervisor, who has claimed the rule would delay well production and royalty revenues. BLM called those claims "unsubstantiated generalization" by a person who hasn’t established qualifications for making the assertions. The statements “are uncited hearsay and inconsistent with BLM's own data," BLM attorneys argued.

The states and industry representatives are asking for the court to temporarily prevent the rule from being implemented to allow time for the court to review the challenges. The states had appealed to the assistant secretary of the Interior Department asking for a delay of implementation but the request was denied.

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