US judge hits ‘pause’ on federal fracking rules

A federal judge in Wyoming has put a stay on new rules governing hydraulic fracturing on public lands, just before they were about to come into effect Wednesday. Four states and two industry groups have sued to block the rules as too restrictive.

US District Judge Scott Skavdahl placed a temporary hold on the rules’ implementation until July 22, giving the government a month to better articulate its case. Skavdahl stopped short of issuing an injunction sought by the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) and the Western Energy Alliance, who were joined by Colorado, Wyoming, North Dakota and Utah in seeking to block the rules from taking effect.

We’re obviously very pleased. The judge is being very careful,” Kathleen Sgamma of the Western Energy Alliance told the Casper Star Tribune.

While the matter is being resolved, the BLM will follow the court’s order and will continue to process applications for permit to drill and inspect well sites under its pre-existing regulations,” said Department of the Interior spokeswoman Jessica Kershaw, referring to the Bureau of Land Management, an agency governing the use of federally owned land.

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