A federal court just struck down the Obama administration’s anti-fracking regulations.
The regulations involved the Bureau of Land Management mandating oil companies to publicly reveal the chemicals they use in fracking, provide a list of existing wells, storage for wastewater and erect barriers between wells and water areas.
U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl, an Obama appointee, ruled that the Bureau of Land Management does not have the authority to regulate fracking because the 2005 Energy Policy Act explicitly states that fracking–with the exception of diesel fuels–is to be regulated by the states, not the federal government.
“The BLM has attempted an end-run around the 2005 EP Act; however, regulation of an activity must be by Congressional authority, not administrative fiat,” wrote Skavdahl. “The Court finds the intent of Congress is clear, so that is the end of the matter.”
Originally, fracking was under the purview of the Environmental Protection Agency until the 2005 law was implemented. According to Skavdahl, the BLM would only have had the authority to regulate fracking if Congress had passed a statue delegating that authority to the agency.
To Skavdahl’s credit, he understood that “the issue before this Court is not whether hydraulic fracturing is good or bad for the environment or the citizens of the United States,” but upholding the rule of law instead.
Naturally, environmental activist groups like the Sierra Club were not happy with the decision.
“While there is no way to ever make fracking safe, the oil and gas industry has repeatedly proven that it needs more standards to keep the public safe from the dangers of fossil fuels, not less,” said Lena Moffit, director of the Sierra Club’s Dirty Fuels campaign.
“The BLM has attempted an end-run around the 2005 EP Act; however, regulation of an activity must be by Congressional authority, not administrative fiat.”
U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan had a more rational response:
— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) June 22, 2016
The Energy Policy Act, which was met with howls from the left at the time of its passing, kept fracking free from the heavy hand of government and allowed it to expand and thrive into booming industry that is perfectly safe. The BLM regulations would have hampered the industry’s development, and were clearly not part of the agency’s authority.