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Judge grants preliminary injunction of federal hydraulic fracturing rule

U.S. District Court of Wyoming Judge Scott W. Skavdahl granted a preliminary injunction of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) hydraulic fracturing rule on Wednesday. The ruling blocks new nationwide regulations for oil and gas drilling on federal lands from taking effect, according to the Associated Press and a statement by the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA).

Earlier this summer, the Forum News Service reported  North Dakota could potentially lose 1,900 jobs and $300 million annually in oil income.  North Dakota Industrial Commission member and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said the federal rule would disrupt North Dakota oil and gas development and result in lost mineral royalties and tax incomes in the next fiscal year. At the recent North Dakota Petroleum Council Annual Meeting, Stenehjem stressed North Dakota’s commitment to fighting the regulation and bring awareness to the state’s own ability to regulate its own unique situation. In North Dakota, oil and gas activity on federal lands such as the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation account for roughly 40 percent of overall production. State officials, who favor state rather than federal regulation, claim the BLM rules would create lengthy permitting delays.

Four states are tangled in a lawsuit to block the rules, indicating duplication of laws already set in place by states–Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and North Dakota. The Associated Press noted that Skavdahl temporarily barred the rules just hours before they were to take effect in June in order to allow federal attorneys to submit more information. Skevdahl cited the 2005 Energy Policy Act, noting, “It is hard to analytically conclude or infer that having expressly removed the regulatory authority from EPA, Congress intended to vest it in the BLM.”

IPAA President Barry Russell released a statement in support of Skevdahl’s injunction. He stated, “We are pleased to see Judge Skavdahl agrees with our request to first hear the merits of our case before this final federal rule goes into effect. Today’s decision is consistent with IPAA’s position that BLM’s efforts are not needed and that states are – and have for 60 years been – in the best position to safely regulate hydraulic fracturing.”

To read more about the injunction, read the Associated Press story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune or the statement by the IPAA.


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