Trump administration seeks to repeal Obama fracking rule

Trump administration seeks to repeal Obama fracking rule
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The Trump administration is proposing to completely repeal Obama-era standards governing hydraulic fracturing on federal land.

The proposal from the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is due to be published Tuesday in the Federal Register.

The landmark 2015 regulation set standards in areas such as disclosure of fracking chemicals and integrity of well casing.

It was the Obama administration’s attempt to update decades-old regulations to account for the explosive growth in fracking for oil and natural gas in recent years.

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The repeal is the latest in a long string of environmental regulations from Obama that Trump is working to undo.

Interior’s stream protection rule for mountaintop removal mining was repealed by Congress, and the agency has taken action on its own to stop Obama’s pause on coal mining on federal land.

The Environmental Protection Agency, meanwhile, has started to undo major regulations on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, water pollution, methane pollution and more.

Trump officials say in the proposal released Monday that the Obama regulation is largely duplicative of state and tribal standards, and would cost the oil and gas industry up to $45 million a year to comply.

“Considering state regulatory programs, the sovereignty of tribes to regulate operations on their lands, and the preexisting authorities in other federal regulations, the proposed rescission of the 2015 final rule would not leave hydraulic fracturing operations entirely unregulated,” the BLM writes in the proposal.

The BLM did not indicate that it intends to replace the rule

The rule’s enforcement has been on hold since last July, when a federal judge in Wyoming overturned it, ruling that the BLM does not have the authority to regulate fracking at all. The Obama administration appealed that decision, but the case is now on hold due to the Trump administration’s reconsideration of the rule.

The rollback follows on President Trump’s campaign promise to repeal regulations that limit the production and use of fossil fuels.

He signed an executive order in March to that effect, specifically naming the BLM fracking rule as one that needed formal review.

Publication Tuesday of the fracking rule repeal proposal will kick off a 60-day period when the agency will gather comments from the public. At that point, it will make any necessary changes to the rule before publishing a final version.

After the final version is published, environmental groups, Democratic states and other supporters of the Obama rule may sue the BLM to try to undo the repeal.