Former President Barack Obama introduced fracking rules in an effort to ensure public safety on federally-owned lands. Getty Images photo by David McNew.
Fracking rules address public safety on federal lands
California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra says his state is suing the Trump administration over its repeal of fracking rules introduced by former President Barack Obama which were created to address public safety concerns about fracking on federal and tribal lands.
The suit was filed on Wednesday and is one of many court challenges taken up by the Golden State on a range of issues, including immigration and the environment, against the government headed by President Donald Trump.
Reuters reports that the suit says the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) violated its own statutory mandates and other federal laws by not giving a “reasoned analysis” for repealing the fracking regulations.
The fracking rules had undergone a lengthy, multi-year review before they were issued by the Obama government.
California is home to the sixth highest number of fracked wells on federally-owned lands in the United States.
Under Democratic President Barack Obama, the BLM issued regulations in 2015 which would have required companies to provide data on the chemicals they used in fracking. The fracking rules required companies to take steps to prevent leakage from oil and gas wells located on federal lands.
Most fracking takes place on private lands.
The rules were never implemented because oil and gas industry groups sued to block them. The groups argued the fracking rules were unnecessary and would hinder efforts by the United States to achieve energy independence.
This litigation came to a close when the Trump administration repealed the regulations in 2016.
Becerra said the new litigation “is going to stand on its own”, while speaking with reporters on a conference call.
“They did nothing at BLM to undo the rule with any justification or factual basis. There is plenty of reason to doubt that the fracking repeal engaged in by the Trump administration would withstand scrutiny in a court,” he added.
Along with the State of California, a number of environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, Earthjustice and the Center for Biological Diversity, also plan to file a lawsuit on Wednesday.
Reuters reports a BLM spokeswoman declined to comment.
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