In an eleventh hour decision, a judge has delayed implementation of new rules regulating fracking on federal lands. The rules were scheduled to go into effect Wednesday.
Among other things, they require the disclosure of fracking chemicals and more tests to ensure wells aren't leaking.
Four western states and a handful of oil and gas industry groups sued the Department of the Interior after it released the rules in March, arguing they interfere with existing state regulations.
U.S. District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl decided Tuesday to delay their implementation while he reviews the administrative record, which the federal government had not submitted in full by the time of the hearing.
The states wanted a more definitive delay, until the legal challenge is resolved, but the temporary stay is still a victory.
“The harms that we showed the court are likely to occur are not going to happen immediately," said Mike McGrady, senior assistant attorney general for the State of Wyoming, which initiated the suit. "We get a little bit more time.”
The judge is expected to make a decision in August as whether the rules can go into effect or whether the government has to wait until legal challenges have been heard.