September 22, 2017: yesterday Argus Media had a short article on this story (see below for story and link). When I read the article, it did not make sense to me, nor did it seem to be the complete story. I thought there must be more. In fact, there is. It turns out there is quite a bit more to it and this whole issue is a long way from being settled. The good news is that previous changes were accomplished by executive orders / rule-changing under the Obama administration, not by Congress.
A much more complete story is now posted by The Oil & Gas Journal.
A federal appeals court in Denver dismissed six environmental organizations’ appeal of a district court’s decision invalidating the US Bureau of Land Management’s regulation of hydraulic fracturing at oil and gas operations on onshore public lands. But the US 10th Circuit Court of Appeals also vacated the lower court’s ruling in the Sept. 21 decision and dismissed the appeal without prejudice, leading at least one environmental group to say that the decision affirmed BLM’s authority to regulate fracing.
The presidents of the Independent Petroleum Association of America in Washington and the Western Energy Alliance in Denver separately applauded the court’s decision to dismiss the appeal, which was pending as a new US president was elected and his administration began to rescind BLM’s fracing regulation.
“Given these changed and changing circumstances, we conclude these appeals are prudentially unripe. As a result, we dismiss these appeals and remand with directions to vacate the district court’s opinion and dismiss the action without prejudice,” Appeals Court Judge Mary Beck Briscoe wrote in the decision.
IPAA and WEA originally sued to overturn the BLM final fracing rule on Mar. 20, 2015. Judge Scott W. Skavdahl of US District Court for Wyoming set the regulation aside more than a year later after finding the agency did not have the necessary congressional authority to impose it.
“Today’s court decision confirms what IPAA has advocated all along: Dismissing the appeal would protect independent producers from the uncertainty of whether it was necessary to comply with regulations that are certain to be revoked,” IPAA Pres. Barry Russell said. “All three judges ruled unanimously that it would be a waste of judicial resources to proceed with this case.”
Original PostFrom Argus Media:
US court scraps limits on fracking oversight.
The decision marks a major victory for environmentalists, who said that keeping the 2016 ruling intact would have stripped the government's authority from regulating fracturing.
Sierra Club staff attorney Nathan Matthews said the decision would reinstate regulations that were developed under former president Barack Obama but never came into force.Affects Federal and tribal land.