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UPDATE: Quickly following on the heels of the Wyoming federal district court’s order striking down the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) hydraulic fracturing rules, the state governments of North Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah have now moved to dismiss the pending Tenth Circuit appeal of the district court’s preliminary injunction order.  Those state government indicated in their brief that they had unsuccessfully attempted to reach out to counsel for the BLM and the environmental groups who filed that appeal, but expected those parties will oppose the dismissal motion.

Separately, the BLM and the intervening environmental groups each filed notices seeking to directly appeal the district court’s June 21 order and judgment striking the BLM’s rules to the Tenth Circuit.  While it remains unclear exactly how this matter will now proceed on appeal, it seems likely that the Tenth Circuit will combine or consolidate all of these appeal issues in one way or another.

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As we’ve previously reported, a Wyoming federal court issued a preliminary injunction order last year that temporarily halted the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) final rule regulating hydraulic fracturing on public lands.  Since that time, the case has split into two proceedings: the Wyoming court moved forward with conducting a full legal analysis of the BLM’s final rule, while several environmental groups who had intervened in the lawsuit appealed the preliminary injunction order to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.  This week we received some clarity on one of those proceedings, while the other remains pending.

District Court Strikes Down BLM Final Rule

On June 21, the Wyoming court struck down the BLM’s final rule, finding the agency lacked the legal authority to promulgate those regulations.

In his order, Judge Scott Skavdahl premised his opinion on whether Congress delegated requisite authority to the BLM to regulate hydraulic fracturing on public lands, and “not whether hydraulic fracturing is good or bad for the environment or the citizens of the United States.”  Ultimately, Judge Skavdahl held, a federal agency “may not exercise its authority in a manner that is inconsistent with the administrative structure that Congress enacted into law.”Continue Reading Wyoming Court Strikes Down BLM Hydraulic Fracturing Rule; Existing Appeal Remains Pending (For Now)

Following a Wyoming federal court’s order temporarily halting the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) final rule regulating hydraulic fracturing on public lands, Sierra Club and several other environmental groups requested the court enter final judgment and delay proceedings while they pursue an appeal through the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.  (Our complete coverage of this

Late yesterday, Judge Scott Skavdahl of the federal district court in Wyoming issued a much-anticipated order granting a series of preliminary injunction motions filed in litigation challenging the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) final rule regulating hydraulic fracturing on public lands.  (Our full coverage of the litigation is available here.)  In a detailed 54-page

In June, a Wyoming federal district court temporarily delayed implementation of the Bureau of Land Management’s (“BLM”) new final rule regulating hydraulic fracturing on federal public lands, while it granted the BLM an extension to lodge its administrative record and permitted the parties more time to file citations to that record in support of their

Following a court hearing and order temporarily delaying the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) final rule regulating hydraulic fracturing on federal public lands, the BLM submitted its response brief opposing the Ute Indian Tribe’s preliminary injunction motion on July 1.  Among the BLM’s arguments, it asserted four primary points:

  • First, the BLM contends that the

On the heels of yesterday’s day-long hearing on several preliminary injunction motions in litigation challenging the Bureau of Land Management’s (“BLM”) new final rule regulating hydraulic fracturing on federal public lands, the Wyoming district court has temporarily ordered a delay of the rule’s implementation for at least several weeks. (See our prior coverage of the

Several more key filings have come into the federal litigation challenging the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) final rule regulating hydraulic fracturing on public lands in advance of the June 23 consolidated preliminary injunction hearing. These briefs are summarized below:

BLM’s Opposition To The Preliminary Injunction Motions Filed By The States Of Wyoming And Colorado

Since our last update on federal litigation in Wyoming challenging the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) final rule to regulate hydraulic fracturing on public lands, the flurry of activity continues in advance of the June 23 preliminary injunction hearing. We’ve summarized several key filings below:

BLM’s Opposition To Preliminary Injunction

On June 1, the BLM filed its brief opposing the preliminary injunction motion entered by the two industry group plaintiffs—the Independent Petroleum Association of America and the Western Energy Alliance. The BLM primarily focuses on two arguments.

First, the BLM contends the industry groups are unlikely to succeed on the merits of their litigation against the rule, and, as a result, a preliminary injunction is unwarranted. In support of its position, the BLM argues:

  • It developed the final rule in accordance with appropriate statutes, including the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, which grants the BLM authority to administer public lands and resources.
  • The industry can comply with certification requirements, such as the temporary recovered fluid storage requirement, by invoking trade secret protection under the BLM’s existing regulations.
  • The final rule is justified and necessary to address modern technological advances and changes in hydraulic fracturing industry.
  • The industry groups failed to demonstrate irreparable harm, since there is no imminent risk of disclosure of confidential information.

The BLM also maintained that the public interest would not favor a preliminary injunction, because entering one would deny the BLM tools to prevent environmental harm, including putative groundwater contamination. And, according to the BLM’s arguments, an injunction would detrimentally affect the orderly administration of federal energy policy, causing confusion among the public and the industry as to whether and when its final fracking rule would become effective.Continue Reading Preliminary Injunction Arguments Pour Into Litigation Against BLM’s Final Fracking Rule

On the heels of a preliminary injunction motion filed in the action by two industry groups challenging the federal Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) final rule regulating hydraulic fracturing on public lands, the states of Wyoming and Colorado likewise filed a preliminary injunction motion in their related case last Friday.

In their brief, the

Last Friday, the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) and the Western Energy Alliance (WEA) opened their arguments on a preliminary injunction motion to halt the federal Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) final rule regulating hydraulic fracturing on public lands until resolution of the litigation.

In its supporting memorandum, the IPAA and WEA detail the

Less than one week after the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released its Final Rule governing hydraulic fracturing practices on federal lands, North Dakota will proceed to explore the state’s legal options for challenging the new regulations.  At their March 24 meeting, the members of the North Dakota Industrial Commission—comprised of Governor Jack Dalrymple,