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Obama-era Fracking Rule May Soon Go Back Into Effect, Or Not


The Obama-era “Fracking Rule" that would increase safety and transparency regulations for oil and gas companies is back on the table. A federal appeals court vacated a 2015 decision that stopped the fracking rule, citing government overreach and costliness.

The appeals court doesn’t necessarily disagree -- saying it was a moot point with the Bureau of Land Management expected to soon change the rule anyway. President Trump called for a review earlier this year.  

Conservation groups consider this dismissal a victory. After a 45-day comment period the fracking rule will take effect. There’s still the threat, though, of the BLM soon changing or rescinding the rule. Earthjustice attorney Michael Freeman said he hopes groups will show how reasonable the protections are if they have a chance to go in place.

“They’re very modest, reasonable protections for public lands and water for public health.” Freeman said, “If they’re forced to start complying with the rules finally, it will become clear that these are not a significant burden on the industry."

Credit BLM
Seal of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

The Western Energy Alliance’s Kathleen Sgamma said she views the “Fracking Rule” as a costly and duplicative regulation. She said she’s confident the BLM will change the rule before the 45-day period runs out.

“Now, if we do nothing and BLM does nothing, yes, the BLM 2015 rule would go into effect, but I can assure you that’s not gonna happen,” Sgamma said.

Earthjustice’s Freeman said he’s doubtful the BLM will be able to finish drafting the rule in less than two months considering the volume of incoming comments. 

The BLM had no further information or comment.

Before Wyoming, Cooper McKim has reported for NPR stations in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and South Carolina. He's reported breaking news segments and features for several national NPR news programs. Cooper is the host of the limited podcast series Carbon Valley. Cooper studied Environmental Policy and Music. He's an avid jazz piano player, backpacker, and podcast listener.
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