In the latest rebuke of the Obama administration’s expansive view of executive power, a federal judge has struck down the Interior Department’s effort to regulate fracking for oil and natural gas.
Judge Scott Skavdahl of the District Court of Wyoming already had put a hold on the regulations last year, and in a decision released late Tuesday, he ruled that Congress did not give Interior the power to regulate hydraulic fracturing, indeed it had expressly withheld that power with some narrow exceptions.
“Congress has not delegated to the Department of Interior the authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing,” Judge Skavdahl wrote in deciding a lawsuit brought by industry groups and a number of Western states. The “effort to do so through the Fracking Rule is in excess of its statutory authority and contrary to law.”
The judge dismissed particularly the claim by the Interior Department and its Bureau of Land Management that it had inherent broad regulatory authority to pursue the public good on federal and Indian lands, the only place the regulations would have applied.Now, from NGI:
Attorneys for the federal government have appealed last week's ruling by a federal judge in Wyoming that the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) does not have the authority to enforce a rule governing hydraulic fracturing (fracking) on public and tribal lands.
Last Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl ruled that fracking was outside the regulatory jurisdiction of the BLM and disagreed with the agency's assertion that Congress had given it broad powers, citing several federal statutes (see Shale Daily, June 22).
An appeal to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver was filed last Friday by six attorneys for the federal government, including four from the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division.
Kathleen Sgamma, vice president of government and public affairs for the Western Energy Alliance (WEA), told NGI’s Shale Daily that the organization anticipated the government’s appeal.
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