Last Week, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Natural Resources Committee advanced a bill that would require the Department of Interior (DOI) to defer to state rules regulating hydraulic fracturing on federal lands.  HR 2728, the Protecting States’ Rights to Promote American Energy Security Act, would prevent DOI from imposing fracking regulations on federal land in states that already have regulations, guidance or permit requirements relating to fracking activities.  The bill’s exemption from federal regulation is broad, incorporating not only state regulations specifically targeting fracking, but also any state requirements or guidance for any component of the fracking process.

This bill is a direct response to the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) release of its updated draft fracking regulations (see the May 20, 2013, post), in which BLM provides that the stricter of the federal, state or tribal regulations would apply.  Proponents of the bill stated that states are adequately regulating fracking activities, states are in a better position to regulate the practice, and BLM is not adequately staffed to process fracking permits in a timely manner. 

In recognition of tribal sovereignty, the Natural Resources Committee also amended the bill to prevent the imposition of BLM fracking rules without tribal consent, regardless of whether the tribes regulated the practice or not.

Co-authored by Michael N. Mills and Robin B. Seifried.