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Merits and Ramifications of the BLM Fracking Rule


May 28, 2015


Washington, DC (and via webinar)

An ELI Member Seminar

On March 20, 2015, the Bureau of Land Management issued a final rule regulating hydraulic fracturing on federal and Indian lands. BLM developed the regulations over four years and received 1.5 million comments during the process. The new regulations will require public disclosure of chemicals used in fracking fluids, higher standards for storing water produced by wells, and the provision of more geologic information in an effort to decrease the risk of cross-well contamination.

Though the rule will only impact about 100,000 wells, or 10% of fracking operations in the United States, critics from across the political spectrum have challenged the rule in the press and in the courts. Industry groups filed suit within hours of the rule’s release arguing it is duplicative of state and tribal regulations and not based on scientific evidence. Wyoming and North Dakota took the federal government to court claiming, among other charges, that BLM’s rule conflicts with the Safe Drinking Water Act. Indian tribes have also spoken out, suggesting that the rule improperly affiliates Indian lands with federal land. On the other hand, environmental organizations have decried the rule as insufficient to prevent the risks associated with fracking and overly accommodating to industry.

ELI held a discussion about the rule’s ramifications when it goes into effect on June 24, 2015. What will the effect be on fracking operations, oil and gas development, and energy production overall? Will tribes retain control over energy development, or will they lose that jurisdiction? Does the rule do anything to address concerns environmentalists have long proffered regarding the hydraulic fracturing process? Will these regulations act as a model for fracking regulations and best practices in other areas? Our participants heard from our panel of experts on these issues and more.

Paul Smyth, Senior Counsel, Perkins Coie LLP (moderator)
Hillary Hoffmann, Professor of Law, Vermont Law School
L. Poe Leggette, Partner, Baker & Hostetler LLP
Amy Mall, Senior Policy Analyst, Natural Resources Defense Council
Richard McNeer, Senior Attorney, Division of Mineral Resources, U.S. Department of Interior, Office of Solicitor

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