Wyoming seeks judicial review of BLM’s new fracing regulations

Wyoming’s government sued in response to the US Bureau of Land Management’s final rule covering hydraulic fracturing on onshore public and Indian tribal lands (OGJ Online, Mar. 20, 2015). Gov. Matt Mead (R) directed the Attorney General’s Office to petition for review of final agency action in US District Court for Wyoming on Mar. 26.

“BLM proposed this rule that exceeds their authority. This is troubling both legally and from a policy standpoint,” Mead said. “Wyoming has fracing rules… [that] have been in place for years and provide for the safe development of minerals.”

In its filing, the state argued that BLM’s rule conflicts with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, exceeds the US Department of the Interior agency’s statutory regulations, and interferes with Wyoming’s own fracing regulations. The case has been assigned to US District Judge Scott W. Skavdahl.

“I hope that whatever happens in the case, there is recognition that states like Wyoming should be rewarded for their leadership, not punished by having additional layers of regulation,” Mead said.

BLM Director Neil Kornze told the US House Natural Resources Committee’s Energy and Mineral Resource Subcommittee that same day that the new rules would not preempt regulations in states which have imposed more stringent requirements, but provide a baseline where regulations don’t exist yet.

Asked by subcommittee member Cynthia M. Lummis (R-Wyo.) whether BLM intended to start regulating wellbore integrity or other operating standards, Kornze said he expected that to remain with states under memorandums of understanding which BLM will negotiate.

“We started our process yesterday with Wyoming,” he told Lummis. “Because BLM manages land scattered across the country, it’s important for [it] to work with states and make sure the systems work efficiently.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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