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US Court Blocks Obama Administration Rules on Fracking

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The New York Times

The court concluded that the Bureau of Land Management lacked the authority to regulate energy extraction on public lands.

A federal judge on Wednesday blocked the Obama administration’s first major regulations on hydraulic fracturing, a technique for oil and gas drilling that has led to a boom in American energy production but has also raised concerns about health and safety risks.

The United States District Court for Wyoming issued a preliminary injunction preventing the Interior Department from carrying out the rules, which were issued in March by the department’s Bureau of Land Management. The ruling, however, stops regulations aimed at only a small fraction of the nation’s domestic oil and gas production.

The Interior Department began drafting the rules, focused on drilling safety, in Mr. Obama’s first term after breakthroughs in the technology, also known as fracking, led to a surge in the production of oil and gas.

Almost as soon as the rules were released, oil and gas industry groups, including the Independent Petroleum Association of America and theWestern Energy Alliance, sued the administration to block them, charging that they were unnecessary and duplicated state regulations.

In siding with the plaintiffs, the court concluded that the Bureau of Land Management lacked the authority to regulate energy extraction on public lands.

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