The US 10th Circuit on Thursday dismissed the challenge to an Obama-era fracking rule that imposed strict requirements on oil and gas operators on federal and tribal lands. The rule was blocked in 2015 and never took effect.
The three-judge panel dismissed the case in its entirety—including the lower court’s decision to block the rule—in light of the fact that the US Bureau of Land Management earlier this year asked the court to pause its review of the rule and recently proposed a measure to rescind the Obama-era regulations. These actions followed the change in US administrations.
Said the court, “Our proceeding to address whether the district court erred in invalidating the BLM’s fracking regulation when the BLM has now commenced rescinding the same regulation appears to be a very wasteful use of limited judicial resources.”
The Obama-era requirements, which concern well casing, wastewater storage, and disclosure of chemicals used in fracking, have been the subject of dispute between industry and environmental and citizen groups since they were enacted in March 2015.
That dispute continues now as parties must determine whether the 10th Circuit’s dismissal of the district court’s decision to block the rule means the regulations proceed toward effect while BLM continues the rulemaking process aimed at rescinding the regulations, or whether the rule has effectively met its end.
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