Denver Federal Appeals Court Considers Obama-era Fracking Rules

The Denver Federal Appeals Court on Thursday heard oral arguments on legal challenges to the Obama-era hydraulic fracturing rule on public and tribal lands..

The legal question was whether the Interior Department’s fracking rule exceeded the agency’s authority. It was in June of last year when Wyoming federal judge Scott Skavdahl ruled the federal government did not have the authority to regulate fracking. The ruling came in legal challenges made by Wyoming, Colorado, North Dakota and Utah.

The states argued the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Energy Policy Act of 2005 removed most fracking applications from the oversight of the Environmental Protection Agency. Their lawsuits contended the exemption extended to other federal agencies including the Bureau of Land Management.

Two other groups were involved in the legal challenges—the Independent Petroleum Association of America and the Western Energy Alliance.

Environmental groups joined the fight to keep the fracking rules. The Sierra Club, Earthworks and others supported a move by the Obama administration last year to file an appeal of Judge Skavdahl’s ruling to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

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