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On March 15, 2017, the BLM filed a motion to continue argument and hold in abeyance an appeal before the Tenth Circuit where the parties were contesting the validity of the BLM’s rule regulating “Oil and Gas; Hydraulic Fracturing on Federal and Indian Lands” (“BLM Fracking Rule”). The BLM Fracking Rule imposed stringent restrictions on well casing and wastewater storage requirements, and required drillers to disclose the proprietary chemicals used in fracking operations. Under the Obama Administration, the BLM appealed a U.S. District Court of Wyoming opinion that held the BLM lacked congressional authority to set rules for fracking. Under the Trump Administration, the litigation has reversed course. The BLM is now asking the Tenth Circuit to stay the proceeding due to anticipated DOI rulemaking that would repeal the contested BLM Fracking Rule.

The BLM’s motion explains that “[c]onsistent with the President’s January 30, 2017, Executive Order on Reducing Regulations and Controlling Regulatory Costs,” the DOI reviewed “existing regulations to determine whether revisions or rescissions are appropriate to streamline the regulatory process and eliminate duplicative regulations.” Pursuant to the Executive Order, the DOI reviewed the BLM Fracking Rule and determined that it “does not reflect” the “policies and priorities of the new Administration.”

Within the next 90 days, the DOI is expected to publish in the Federal Register a notice of proposed rulemaking to rescind the BLM Fracking Rule.

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