Obama Public Land Fracking Rule Struck Down: "No Congressional Authority"


Guest essay by Eric Worrall

An attempt by the Obama administration to impose harsh regulations on fracking operations on public land has been thrown out by a Wyoming court, on the grounds that the Interior Department exceeded the bounds of its Congressional authority.

WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Tuesday night struck down an Obama administration regulation on the use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for oil and gas on public lands, a blow to President Obama’s muscular stand on the extraction of fossil fuels on government lands.

The rule, released by the Interior Department in March of last year and scheduled to take effect this Friday, was designed to increase the safety of fracking. It would have required companies to comply with federal safety standards in the construction of fracking wells, and to disclose the use of some chemicals in the fracking process.

Judge Scott W. Skavdahl of Federal District Court in Wyoming ruled that the Interior Department lacked the authority from Congress to issue the regulation, and also noted that fracking was already subject to other regulations under state and federal law.

The blocked rule would not have affected most fracking operations in the United States, since it would have applied only to fracking on federal lands. The vast majority of fracking in the United States — almost 90 percent — is done on state and private land and is governed by state and local regulations. The rule was unlikely to have stopped most new fracking on public lands, although oil and gas companies complained that it could have slowed operations by creating burdensome paperwork.

The House speaker, Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, said in a statement: “Hydraulic fracturing is one of the keys that has unlocked our nation’s energy resurgence in oil and natural gas, making the United States the largest energy producer in the world, creating tens of thousands of good-paying jobs, and lowering energy prices for consumers. Yet the Obama administration has sought to regulate it out of existence. This is not only harmful for the economy and consumers, it’s unlawful — as the court has just ruled.”

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/23/us/politics/hydraulic-fracturing-interior-department-regulations.html

Click here to see the court ruling.

Naturally the Obama administration plans to appeal. I guess President Obama is still attempting to fulfil his promise to make energy prices skyrocket, regardless of the impact on jobs or the economic wellbeing of ordinary Americans.

57 thoughts on “Obama Public Land Fracking Rule Struck Down: "No Congressional Authority"

  1. “Reality is the leading cause of stress among those in touch with it.”
    Lily Tomlin

  2. It happened with no thanks from the Surrender Caucus, excuse me, the Republican Caucus in Congress. This sort of overreach should have been stopped in 2014.

  3. The problem remains that federally controlled lands are effectively blocked from all new fossil fuel production. The federal govt. controls a huge percent of the western US.

    • Can anyone explain why the Army still has a role in managing federal land? (Army Corps of Engineers)
      After all the Civil War ended 150 years ago and the Indians were either exterminated or confined to concentration camps.

      • The Corps of Engineers was given control of navigable waterways.
        The Corps managed to convince the courts that in order to control navigable waterways, they needed to be able to control any land that drained into a navigable waterway, either directly or indirectly.
        The problem was that every square inch of land in the US drains into a navigable waterway.

  4. I agree with Tom Halla. I have tried to imagine what I would have done had I ever been elected to Congress. I am not a terribly courageous man, but I hope I would have had the backbone to say “no!” to the overweening excesses of this government. The administration’s people have no science background to speak of, merely an ideology which they have the power to enforce, thanks to the cravenness of the Republicans in D.C. Thank God for this judge! He at least rules based on the law of the land. If O and his minions did likewise, we wouldn’t have these problems, and true science might at last be considered before making decisions affecting millions of people.

    • This will work it’s way up the appeals process, eventually to the Supreme Court. What happens there depends solely on who gets to appoint the next member of the court. What’s right or what the constitution says has no relevance, unfortunately.

    • I’m not fan of surrender theater, but you need to explain how congress could have done anything about this? The Left is willing to play any game of chicken all the way up to the point of collision. They know they will never be held accountable and the same free billion$ the sympathetic press gave Orange will be given to frame the crisis as purely the result of Republican Obstructionism(tm). And the other reality is that as long as you’ve got at least four justices, a sympathetic circuit court, and 1/3 of the Senate on your side there’s nothing the opposition can do to stop the royal decrees.
      Hail Caesar.

      • Ryan and Senator Boehner have the delusion that they can get good press out of the MSM by looking “responsible”,and “not shutting the government down”. It is Obama violating the Constitution, and failing to make it very clear who is reponsible by forcing Obama to veto the budget, rather than submitting when he threatens a veto.
        Yes it would be messy and contentious. What Ryan and Boehner do not realize is they get blamed anyway by Obama and the vvery partisan MSM.

      • The Congress can’t ” shut the Government down “; that is the responsibility of the executive branch.
        See how that works; Executive, adjective, execute; verb , carry out, do, implement .
        The Congress only makes the laws for the executioners to carry out, and they provide the money for them to carry out what they want done.

    • Federal Judges right many wrongs. They don’t always get it right, but more often than not, they do. They have certainly been a thorn in Obama’s side, when he attempts to exceed his presidential authority. Of course, that’s their job. 🙂

    • The problem is that most of those in congress view politics as their career, so they are very risk averse when it comes to their votes.
      That’s why I favor changing the constitution to limit the amount of time anyone can spend in elective office to 20 years. Total.

  5. This decision is a wonderful restatement of the primacy of the Constitution and the rule-of-law, and a much needed pushback against the Obama “imperialist rule-of-man” actions
    The judge was clear: “Judge Scott W. Skavdahl of Federal District Court in Wyoming ruled that the Interior Department lacked the authority from Congress to issue the regulation”.
    The Executive Branch (President, cabinet departments, and agencies) only get to implement the laws enacted by Congress (the Legislative Branch) as directed by Congress. And furthermore, the executive Branch MUST implement and enforce ALL of those laws (c.f., Obama’s wave-of-the-hand policies to not enforce the immigration laws, marijuana/drug laws, numerous provisions of ObamaCare that are economically and politically ruinous, etc., etc.)
    This administration has been repeatedly “lawless” and, as observed by Dr Charles Krauthammer, “needed to be slapped down again” on (e.g.) immigration, anti-fracking rules, EPA regulation of carbon dioxide, etc., etc.

  6. This guy is playing politics with every law and court in the land. Never mind what a monumental waste of time it is. There must be a code word for this in the legal industry, like maybe rainmaker.

  7. The first rule was violated when the voters sent someone from Chicago to the White House. It has been all down hill from there.

  8. Why could not the two Democratic Party appointees on the panel of the D.C. Court of Appeals have applied such clear thinking to the proposed regulation of the internet by the FCC? The FCC decision violates the clear letter of the 1995 Communications Act, and also violated the Administrative Procedures Act. Now we are bound to be treated to three justices, at least, of the Supreme Court winging it in order to help uphold Obama’s desires.

  9. Hillary has taken a boat load of money from oil-producing Middle Eastern countries yet she plans to continue Obama’s unconstitutional (hence illegal) interference of domestic oil production. There’s a very accurate word for that: Corruption.

  10. Imagine no Obama
    It’s easy if you try
    No more attacking fracking
    Come January, he goes bye-bye
    Imagine all the people
    With affordable energy

  11. In so far as the mission of the US Department of the Interior, the object of the court’s ruling, is:
    “Mission: The U.S. Department of the Interior protects and manages the Nation’s natural resources and cultural heritage; provides scientific and other information about those resources; and honors its trust responsibilities or special commitments to American Indians, Alaska Natives, and affiliated Island Communities.”,
    that this department IS the APPROPRIATE federal body to regulate activities such as FRACKING ON FEDERAL LAND, the judge, plain and simple, is A MORON and/or most probably a shill for Big Oil and Gas.
    Further, that you quote the UBER MORON, “Speaker” Ryan, is a joke! He, Mitch McConnell and the rest of the obstructionist Republicans in congress were bought and paid for by big oil and THE GUN LOBBY (NRA), years ago. Quoting him is much like quoting the fox that is guarding the hen house after the fox ate all the hens and chickens. Ryan isn’t the “Speaker of the House”, the “People’s House” which is what it was understood to be, he is the “Speaker for Big Oil” or maybe “Speaker for the NRA”, either way, he doesn’t speak for me and is a whole lot worse than Boehner ever was.
    I’m not sure which word describes this fiasco better “Farce” or “Joke”; most likely both of them.

    • Ad hominem much? The decision of the judge was correct. Too bad if your Greenie ideology doesn’t allow you to see that.

      • No, actually, only when the need to express a point of view as such overwhelms all inclinations to the opposite; when that seems to be the only option available, overcoming all patience and rationality when confronted with some of the most absurd and controverted logic imaginable.

      • Why, because I disagree with you?
        While I may disagree with a particular assertion, story or point of view, such is the nature of a free press and an open democracy, consistent with the universal right to free thought and free speech. Simply because a particular point of view is troubling or that another may disagree with it doesn’t negate its validity or veracity.
        Many on this forum get their talking points from Breitbart or Fox; sorry, I choose to think for myself and not let some powerful special interest tell me what to think.

    • as stated above, the federal government has NO constitutional authority to even “own” land except in very defined circumstances.

      • Whose talking about “ownership”?
        The Department of the Interior has regulatory authority over “the Nation’s ‘natural resources'” read “Federal land”. Note that the noun “Nation” is used in the possessive context, implying “ownership”. By your argument then, the very existence of the DOI is unconstitutional since their specific purview is in regards to the nation’s ‘natural resources'”. By your logic, also, even the term “Federal Land” is a contradiction in terms.
        Where do you guys get this stuff? Really?

      • T Madigan asks: Where do you guys get this stuff? Really?
        from the constitution itself–really Try reading it–especially article I, section 8–the second to last paragraph of the section.

    • The judge did not say that the Department of the Interior did not have the responsibility to regulate federal lands. What he said is that the Congress did not give it the authority to promulgate the new fracking regulations. It may come as a surprise to you, but all federal departments are limited in scope by federal law, and they are not allowed to exceed those limits just because they think something is within their mission statement (which does not have the force of law).
      Learn how things work before you start throwing around insults.

    • Doesn’t everyone know that the job of Republicans is to do whatever the Democrats tell them to do.
      Anything less is obstructionism and is punishable by up to 5 years in jail, or execution, depending on Obama’s mood that day.

  12. What is needed is a reenactment of the special prosecutor law. Had special prosecutors been available over the past 8 years, much of the malfeasance perpetuated by the EPA, DOJ, IRS, etc. would have been rigorously pursued and prosecuted at the direction of Congress. Obama ignored all the illegal crap going on in his administration because he supported it… and the DOJ did nothing to pursue the guilty. He only went after the military… where a large number of flag officers have been forcibly retired because they didn’t support his overt marginalization of our fighting forces.

  13. “with federal safety standards in the construction of fracking wells”
    I’ve noticed in the lefty press they’ve recently started using this term “fracking well”, which is something they just made up. I doubt anyone in the oil industry has any idea what a “fracking well” is. Is there a “non-fracking well”?. It’s hilarious.
    The punch line of this whole joke is the new technology was the ability to frac horizontal bores. THAT was the problem that had to be overcome in order to exploit shale. Fracking has been around a long, long time.

  14. We can only hope that the 4 progressive justices will at some point recognize the separation of powers, the take care clause and the article one of the constitution – the article that says congress shall make the laws

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