States File Suit Against BLM Following Update to Fracking Regulations

Fracking Regulations pic In March 2015, the United States Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released the final draft of its regulations on hydraulic fracturing on public and tribal property. Aimed at improving safety and preventing groundwater contamination, the new rule bolstered requirements for wastewater disposal, wellbore integrity, and transparency regarding chemicals. However, a number of states have taken issue with the regulatory update.

On March 26, Wyoming Governor Matt Mead filed suit against the BLM for regulatory review, and North Dakota, Colorado, and Utah joined the effort soon after. The states argue that, in initiating the new requirements, the BLM has exceeded its authority and that the federal agency’s updated regulations will conflict with rules already in place at the state level. State leaders such as Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert have posited that the new requirements would lead to an inconsistent and inefficient regulatory system that could add several years and millions of dollars in expenses to the permitting process.

Neil Kornze, director of the BLM, has stated that the updated regulations would not take the place of more rigid requirements already in place at the state level, noting that they are intended only to fill regulatory gaps. However, the states contend that the recent regulations conflict with existing laws at both the state and federal level, including the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.