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.”
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.