Drillers file lawsuit to challenge Obama's new fracking rules

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Oil and natural gas drillers wasted little time filing a lawsuit against the Obama administration’s new hydraulic fracturing regulations Friday.

The complaint from the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) and Western Energy Alliance came less than an hour after the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management unveiled the first major regulations on fracking on federal and American Indian land.

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The lawsuit accuses federal regulators of promulgating “a reaction to unsubstantiated concerns” that lacks the factual, scientific or engineering evidence necessary to justify them.

“These new mandates on hydraulic fracturing by the federal government ... are the complete opposite of common-sense,” Barry Russell, president of IPAA, said in a statement.

“Hydraulic fracturing has been conducted safely and responsibly in the United States for over sixty years,” he said. “These newly mandated fees will add burdensome new costs on our independent producers, taking investments away from developing new American-made energy, much-needed job creation and economic growth.”

Tim Wigley, president of Western Energy Alliance, said states have shown that they are capable of effectively regulating fracking, including on federal land.

“If anything, BLM should be delegating more to the states in recognition of their exemplary environmental and safety records, not implementing new federal red tape that is not properly justified,” he said.

The rules unveiled Friday set new standards for construction of oil and gas wells that are fracked, requires public disclosure of fracking chemicals and mandates that waste fluid from fracking is properly contained.

The standards were criticized from both sides. Republicans and the oil and gas industry said the rules were unnecessarily burdensome, and Democrats and environmentalists said they did not go far enough to protect the environment.