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BLM to Withdraw Hydraulic Fracturing Rule

On March 15, 2017, the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, stated in a legal filing that it will withdraw its contested final rule that would have updated the Bureau’s regulations applicable to hydraulic fracturing operations on Federal and Indian Lands. The rule was published as final in the Federal Register on March 26, 2015 but enjoined by the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming preliminarily in September 2015 and finally in June 2016. Under the Obama Administration, BLM pursued an appeal of the district court injunction, which found that Congress has not delegated to BLM the authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

Had the rule taken effect, it would have required, among other items, that operators: submit detailed information regarding the proposed hydraulic fracturing operation, including wellbore geology information and the estimated length of fracture propagation; design and implement a casing and cementing program that meets certain best management practices and performance standards; manage recovered fluids in rigid enclosed, covered, or netted and screened aboveground storage tanks, with some exceptions; and disclose the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing to BLM and the public, with limited exceptions for trade secrets.