Attorneys representing the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) and the Western Energy Alliance (WPA) asked a federal court to block the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from enacting its final rule for hydraulic fracturing (fracking) on public and tribal lands, arguing that the rulemaking process was flawed and will cost producers hundreds of millions of dollars.

On Friday, the law firm Baker & Hostetler LLP filed a request for a preliminary injunction in U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming. The firm had also filed a petition for review of final agency action in March on behalf of the IPAA and WPA (see Shale Daily, March 20).

Baker & Hostetler said that while the final rule is not scheduled to take effect until June 24, producers are already feeling the pinch because they have had to adjust drilling schedules, move equipment, contract for operational services and train personnel — actions that collectively the firm asserts would cost operators more than “hundreds of millions of dollars” a year.

“BLM has underestimated the cost of the final rule at every phase of development,” attorney Mark Barron said. “Given the magnitude of expected costs and the legal flaws of the final rule, injunctive relief is necessary to protect independent producers until the court reaches resolution.”

The final rule will require operators to, among other things, temporarily store produced water in aboveground tanks and disclose most of the chemicals they use to the FracFocus registry. They will also be required to submit detailed information about any proposed operation, including wellbore geology, the location of faults and fractures, the depths of all usable water, estimated volume of fluid to be used, and estimated direction and length of fractures.

The case [No. 2:15-CV-00041-SWS] names Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and the BLM as defendants.