Federal Drilling Rules Delayed

Wednesday, July 22, 2015 @ 03:07 PM gHale

New rules for oil and gas drilling on federally managed land won’t take effect until September at the earliest after a court decided to delay the start date.

Federal District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl had already decided to temporarily stay the Interior Department rule while he waits for more information from the government and weighs an oil industry request for a longer-term injunction blocking the drilling mandates.

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But the administration asked for more time to provide details on how they developed the rule and the court granted the motion.

That extends the deferral of the rule and sets up a possible decision on a full injunction in early September.

Oil industry trade groups, who are challenging the drilling rules, praised the move.

“The government’s request proves there is no urgent reason to immediately implement the final rule before the court has adequate opportunity to resolve a number of important and legitimate legal questions,” said Neal Kirby, a spokesman for one of the challengers, the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPPA).

The rule, set to take effect in June, imposes new requirements for constructing wells on federally managed lands and storing waste water from the sites. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) measure also would force oil companies to disclose the chemicals they pump underground in hydraulic fracturing operations that stimulate the wells into production.

IPAA and the Western Energy Alliance filed a lawsuit challenging the rule in federal court the same day it ended up finalized, arguing the industry does not need the mandates and they are much broader in scope than the Obama administration originally intended.

Several oil-producing states, including Wyoming, Colorado, North Dakota and Utah also challenged the rule, arguing that the BLM does not have authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing.