For Immediate Release

Enviros File Suit to Block Trump’s Attempt to Kill the BLM Fracking Rule

WASHINGTON - “Today we challenge the Trump Administration’s proposal to kill the Interior Department’s fracking safeguards because we don’t want more toxic waste pits or water pollution from poorly managed oil and gas wells.

During the six year public process it took to create the BLM fracking rule, we learned that oil and gas drilling on public lands pollutes our drinking water, sullies our landscapes, and harms our property values. The BLM fracking rule isn’t perfect, but it does provide basic water protections below which the oil and gas industry cannot sink.

After a year in power, it’s now clear that when the Trump Administration speaks of “energy dominance” they mean giving the oil and gas sector free rein to pollute our air and water, trample our communities, and harm public health.”

Background

Over nearly six years, from 2010-2015, the Obama Administration’s BLM undertook an extensive rulemaking to update their onshore drilling regulations. These rules had not seen an update since the use of directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing technologies became the dominant industry practice for oil and gas extraction.

Earthworks extensively participated in the development of the rule including generating thousands of comments for the docket, testifying before the US Senate, participating in high level agency meetings, and supported many grassroots activities. In March 2015, BLM issued their final fracking rule. (80 Fed. Reg. at 16,128)

In June 2015, two industry trade associations and several states challenged the rule in Wyoming’s district court (Wyoming vs. Jewell). Earthworks, represented by Earthjustice, intervened in support of the rule. The following June, the Court set aside the rule on the grounds that BLM lacks the legal authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing on public lands.

We appealed to the 10th Circuit. In March 2017, while our appeal was pending, the Trump administration announced plans to repeal the rule. The 10th Circuit later dismissed the appeal and vacated the district court’s adverse ruling. Following a notice-and-comment rulemaking, BLM on December 29, 2017, published its final rescission effective immediately.

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