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US Court Rules Against Obama’s Fracking Regulations

Michael Bastasch, Daily Caller

A federal district court judge has sided with the petroleum industry and granted an injunction against enforcing the Obama administration regulations for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, on federal lands.

“At this point, the Court does not believe Congress has granted or delegated to the [Bureau of Land Management] authority to regulate fracking,” Judge Scott Skavdahl, an Obama appointee, wrote in his preliminary injunction against the Department of the Interior.

“[I]t cannot be concluded that because Congress has not expressly forbidden the BLM’s regulation of hydraulic fracturing on federal lands, the agency may now assert it,” Skavdahl added.

In March, the Interior Department issued regulations for fracking operations on federal lands, setting standards for cement casings of fracked wells, public disclosure of the chemicals used in the fracking process, more stringent wastewater storage standards and mandating that companies give geographical data to the government.

The rule was welcomed by environmentalists, but immediately sued by a group of states and the oil and gas industry. Now, after months of battling it out in the courts, opponents of the rule have successfully put the brakes on the administration’s plan to clamp down on drilling.

“We are pleased to see Judge Skavdahl agrees with our reasonable request to first hear the merits of our case before this final federal rule goes into effect,” said Jeff Eshelman, lead spokesman for the Independent Petroleum Association of America.

States and the petroleum industry argued Interior’s fracking rules were duplicative of state regulations and that the department lacked explicit congressional authority to regulate the well-stimulation process.

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