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Trump Administration Seeking To Rescind Obama-Era Fracking Rule

by Countable | 7.26.17

What’s the story?

The Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is seeking to undo the rules and regulations regarding hydraulic fracturing on federal and tribal lands implemented by Obama in 2015. The proposed removals were published in the federal register on Tuesday, and now a public comment period begins that will conclude on September 25, 2017.

Why does it matter?

The Hill reported Monday that the BLM was planning to publish in the federal register their intent to completely repeal the 2015 rule regarding hydraulic fracturing on federal and tribal lands. The rule was intended to prevent water pollution involved in the high water volume process used to extract natural gas, more commonly known as fracking. As summarized by ThinkProgress:

"the 2015 final rule was intended to: ensure that wells are properly constructed to protect water supplies, make certain that the fluids that flow back to the surface as a result of hydraulic fracturing operations are managed in an environmentally responsible way, and provide public disclosure of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing fluids."

The rule also provided "opportunities for the BLM to coordinate standards and processes with individual states and tribes to reduce administrative costs and to improve efficiency."

In a March executive order President Trump instructed the Interior Secretary to take the necessary steps to rescind the rule in pursuit of "energy independence." In their Tuesday addition to the federal register the BLM states:

"The 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. This proposed rule would return the affected sections of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) to the language that existed immediately before the published effective date of the 2015 final rule.”

The 2015 rule never actually went into effect. It was repeatedly challenged by states and the oil and gas industry. After being on hold for a year, in the spring of 2016 a District Court set the rule aside, stating that the BLM did not have the authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing operations. The Interior Department, then still under President Obama, appealed the decision, but Obama left office before the case could wind its way through the courts.

As outlined in the federal register, comments about the new rule can be submitted online, via mail, or in-person delivery. To be accepted, all comments must be specific, pertinent, and preferably detailed:

"Please make your comments on the proposed rule as specific as possible, confine them to issues pertinent to the proposed rule, and explain the reason for any changes you recommend. Where possible, your comments should reference the specific section or paragraph of the proposed rule that you are addressing.”

What can you do?

Do you support the complete and final repeal of the 2015 rule? Do you think state and tribal governments have the proper regulations and authority to prevent water pollution from hydraulic fracturing?

The 61-day comment period, again, ends on September 25, 2017 if you want to comment directly to the Interior Department.

You can also use the Take Action button to tell your reps what you think!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Simon Fraser University via Flickr / Creative Commons)

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