An appeals court declined Wednesday to reconsider its September decision that undid a previous court ruling overturning the Obama administration’s fracking rule for federal land.
In a brief order that didn’t come with an explanation, the Denver-based Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit said no judge was interested in pursuing the process for a second hearing.
The Wednesday order is mostly moot, since the Trump administration’s Interior Department is working to repeal the fracking regulation at issue.
But it could put Obama’s rule back into force. The Wednesday order doesn’t take effect until Jan. 12, giving the Trump administration two weeks to finish repealing the rule before it is revived.
In the original 2016 decision, a Wyoming federal court ruled that Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) was never given authority by Congress to regulate fracking.
In September, the circuit court dismissed an appeal of the Wyoming decision, saying it was moot because the Trump administration is repealing the rule.
But, in a victory for environmentalists who want a future Democratic president to reinstate the rule, the circuit court vacated the lower ruling, reasoning that it too is moot.
“Our proceeding to address whether the District Court erred in invalidating the BLM’s fracking regulation when the BLM has now commenced rescinding that same regulation appears to be a very wasteful use of limited judicial resources,” the higher court wrote.
The states and industry groups that oppose the original rule sought reconsideration of the dismissal.