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 Indian Mineral Leasing Act and Indian Mineral Development Act grant the BLM authority to exercise regulatory jurisdiction over hydraulic fracturing on Indian lands.
  • The BLM maintains that its final fracking rule is consistent with the Secretary of the Interior’s statutory trust obligations to Indian tribes.
  • In response to the Ute Indian Tribe’s economic arguments, the BLM asserts that associated costs are reasonable in light of the need for the final rule, and will not cause irreparable economic injury.
  • Lastly, the BLM contends that the Ute Indian Tribe is unlikely to succeed on the merits of its claim that the BLM failed to properly consult with it, since the Secretary of the Interior engaged in tribal consultation before publishing the final rule.

The Ute Indian Tribe submitted its reply brief on July 8.  Pursuant to the Wyoming federal court’s order on June 23, these arguments will be taken under advisement until after the BLM has lodged its administrative record, at which point all of the parties who have submitted preliminary injunction motions will have an opportunity to supplement their positions.  The court is expected to rule on the preliminary injunction motions later this summer.