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BLM Rescinds 2015 Hydraulic Fracturing Rules

On December 29, the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) published a final rule (82 FR 61924) which was effective immediately, which rescinded the BLM’s 2015 rule affecting oil and gas hydraulic fracturing operations on Federal and Indian lands. BLM concluded that these rules “impose administrative burdens and compliance costs that are not justified.” Accordingly, the action restores the rules that were in place before the 2015 rules were promulgated. The BLM’s review of the 2015 rule, which included a study of incident reports from Federal land and Indian wells since December 2104, concluded that “resource damage is unlikely to increase by rescinding the 2015 final rule because of the rarity of adverse environmental impacts that occurred from hydraulic fracturing operations since promulgation of the 2015 rule. The BLM now believes that the appropriate framework for mitigating these impacts exists through state regulations, through tribal exercise of sovereignty, and through BLM’s own pre-existing regulations and authorities.”