BLM Proposes to Rescind Rule on Hydraulic Fracturing


Bureau of Land Management

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As part of President Trump’s goal to reduce the burden of Federal regulations that hinder economic growth and energy development, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) today announced in the Federal Register a proposal to rescind the 2015 final rule on hydraulic fracturing—a rule that was never in effect due to pending litigation.  The proposal includes the opportunity for public comment. 

“America’s public lands offer outstanding commercial, recreational, and conservation opportunities, and energy development is one of them,” said Katharine S. MacGregor, Acting Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management. “Maintaining positive, productive working relationships with our state and tribal partners is a top priority of this Administration.  We are committed to working collaboratively with them to ensure the safe and environmentally responsible development of our Nation’s energy resources.  Our proposal to rescind the 2015 final rule responds to the President's call to reduce regulatory burdens, foster job growth, and serve the energy needs of America's families, small businesses, and manufacturers."

“The Department of the Interior’s approach toward overseeing wells is to be better business partners and environmental stewards which is in alignment with the Trump Administration’s across-the-board prioritization of domestic energy production,” said Vincent DeVito, Counselor to the Secretary of the Interior for Energy Policy.  “This means flexibility to regulate fracking and a rule-making process open to all members of the public. The Department has not made any prior determinations.  We know that being a good business partner includes a commonsense, transparent approach towards regulatory stability, environmental stewardship and growing our energy economy.”

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke directed the BLM to review the 2015 final rule as part of Secretary’s Order No. 3349, Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth, issued on March 29, 2017.  During the review, the BLM found that all of the 32 states with Federal oil and gas leases have regulations to address hydraulic fracturing.  Furthermore, since the 2015 final rule was published, more companies are using databases, such as FracFocus, to disclose the chemical content of hydraulic fracturing fluids.

The BLM’s proposal supports Administration priorities that: require agencies to seek ways to reduce the costs of regulatory compliance (Executive Order 13771, Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs), and; require the Secretary to review four specific rules, including the BLM’s 2015 final rule on hydraulic fracturing (Executive Order 13783, Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth).  

The BLM estimates that about 90 percent of the approximately 2,800 production wells drilled in 2013 on Federal and Indian lands used hydraulic fracturing techniques to stimulate production.  During the past 15 years, there have been significant technological advances in horizontal drilling.  The technique is now frequently combined with hydraulic fracturing to help release significant quantities of oil and gas from large shale deposits.

Public comments on this proposed rescission are due to the BLM on or before Sept. 25, 2017.  The BLM is not obligated to consider, or include in the administrative record, comments received after this date or delivered to an address other than those listed below in making its decisions on the final rule. 

Mail:  U.S. Department of the Interior, Director (630), Bureau of Land Management, Mail Stop 2134LM, 1849 C St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20240, Attention:  1004-AE52. 

Personal or messenger delivery:  U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, 20 M Street, S.E., Room 2134 LM, Washington, D.C. 20003, Attention: Regulatory Affairs.
Federal eRulemaking Portal: Follow the instructions at the website. 

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.