BLM chops 2015 hydraulic fracturing rule

The US Bureau of Land Management rescinded a hydraulic fracturing rule it adopted in 2015 “because we believe it imposes administrative costs and burdens that are not justified,” it said.

The US Bureau of Land Management rescinded a hydraulic fracturing rule it adopted in 2015 “because we believe it imposes administrative costs and burdens that are not justified,” it said in a notice scheduled to appear in the Dec. 29 Federal Register. The new final rule will be effective as of that date, BLM said on Dec. 28.

The action followed the agency’s review of the 2015 rule in response to President Donald J. Trump’s Jan. 30 executive order for federal agencies to examine their regulations and repeal those which created unnecessary costs, and US Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke’s Mar. 29 American Energy Independence Secretarial Order.

BLM said that a regulatory impact analysis shows that the revised rule will reduce compliance costs by up to $9,690/well or $14-34 million/year. The agency proposed rescinding the 2015 rule this past summer (OGJ Online, July 25, 2017).

Officials from the Independent Petroleum Association of America and the Western Energy Alliance in Denver welcomed the agency’s action. The trade associations jointly sued BLM to overturn the 2015 rule soon after the agency adopted it.

“The rescinding of this burdensome rule, which was never enacted due to IPAA and Western Energy Alliance’s ongoing legal challenge, will save our member companies and those operating on federal lands hundreds of millions of dollars in compliance costs without any corresponding safety benefits,” IPAA Pres. Barry Russell said.

“We are pleased that the over 5-year-long process can now come to a favorable close as states continue to be in the best position to safely regulate hydraulic fracturing activities on their lands.”

WEA Pres. Kathleen Sgamma said that the federal rule “was redundant with state regulation and politically motivated, as the prior administration could not point to one incident or regulatory gap that justified the rule.” She said states “have an exemplary safety record regulating fracing.”

Contact Nick Snow atnicks@pennwell.com

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