Court delays appeal over Obama’s fracking rule

Court delays appeal over Obama’s fracking rule
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A federal court on Wednesday delayed oral arguments in the Obama administration’s appeal to reinstate its hydraulic fracturing regulation for federal lands for two months.

The Denver-based Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit made its decision without a request by a party in the case. It means that attorneys working for President-elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpPresidents with the worst first 100 days WHCA dinner could be Trump's chance to one-up the media. He should take it. Trump promises border wall still coming at NRA summit MORE will be in charge of the federal government’s appeal.

Oral arguments will now take place the week of March 20, when litigants will have an hour to present their cases to the three-judge panel. The court in November had scheduled a half-hour of arguments on Jan. 17, three days before Trump takes office.

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The Justice Department filed the appeal in June on behalf of the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which wrote the fracking rule in 2015.

It challenges a decision from Judge Scott Skavdahl. The Wyoming-based federal judge ruled that the BLM is specifically prohibited under a 2005 law from regulating fracking on federal land.

Federal lawyers said in court filings that Skavdahl’s “crabbed view of BLM’s authority is wholly unprecedented and manifestly incorrect.”

A group of conservative states and oil and natural gas industry groups filed the original lawsuit and is challenging the government’s appeal.

On the campaign trail, Trump promised to roll back President Obama’s restrictions on fossil fuel development, including fracking.

The Trump administration could direct attorneys to stop pursuing the regulation’s appeal, but environmentalists and others involved in the case could keep it going.

Trump could also have his Interior Department work to repeal the rule.

The rule sets standards in three areas: well casing integrity, storage of waste fluids and public disclosure of the contents of fracking fluid used.