Yesterday, the Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) announced its recommendation that the hydraulic fracturing rule from 2015 entitled, “Oil and Gas; Hydraulic Fracturing on Federal and Indian Lands,” be rescinded – the Federal Register Notice issued by Katharine S. MacGregor, Acting Assistant Secretary of Land and Minerals Management, can be found here.
By way of a little background and reminder, the BLM had issued regulations that attempted to regulate oil and gas development on federal and tribal lands by focusing on three main things: wellbore construction, chemical disclosures and water management. However, the final rule never actually went into effect – litigation commenced which ultimately resulted in U.S. District Court Judge Skavdahl determining that the BLM does not have the authority to enforce the 2015 hydraulic fracturing rule (you remember the New York Times article entitled, “Obama Fracking Rule is Struck Down by Court”).
See my prior blog posts for a more complete discussion of the background:
In sum, the recommendation to rescind the regulations is based upon their duplicative and redundant nature – state level efforts at regulating oil and gas operations really occupy the field here already. Specifically, according to the Federal Register Notice, the basis for the recommendation followed the BLM’s findings after its review of the 2015 final rule: “[t]he BLM is now proposing to rescind the 2015 final rule because we believe it is unnecessarily duplicative of state and some tribal regulations and imposes burdensome reporting requirements and other unjustified costs on the oil and gas industry.”
The next step: The BLM takes public comments on this proposal to rescind the rule. Stay tuned!