Anti-Fracking Movement Reeling As ‘Scare Tactics’ Fail To Resonate
Even before a federal court ruling threw out the Obama administration’s hydraulic fracturing rule this week, foes of fracking were struggling to dig their way out of a hole after a string of policy and regulatory reversals.
U.S. District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl ruled late Tuesday that the Interior Department exceeded its authority with its 2015 rule governing hydraulic fracturing, handing another defeat to fracking foes. (Associated Press)
Other environmental crusades targeting the oil and gas industry show signs of progress, but “fractivists” have absorbed a series of political and legal defeats that call into question whether the tactic once viewed as a surefire gusher will ever amount to more than fool’s gold.
The latest setback was delivered by U.S. District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl of the District of Wyoming, who ruled late Tuesday that the Interior Department exceeded its authority with its 2015 rule governing hydraulic fracturing, a widely used extraction technique used to separate oil and natural gas from rock. States have been the primary regulators.
The process has revolutionized world energy production patterns but has faced determined resistance from environmental groups arguing that fracking is either unproven or unsafe.
“Congress’ inability or unwillingness to pass a law desired by the executive branch does not default authority to the executive branch to act independently, regardless of whether hydraulic fracturing is good or bad for the environment or the citizens of the United States,” Judge Skavdahl wrote in his 27-page opinion.
The judge, appointed to the bench by President Obama in 2011, had placed a hold on the regulations pending the outcome of the lawsuit brought by industry groups and four Western states: Colorado, North Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.
“For the past year, we’ve successfully made the case that these rules unlawfully interfere with Colorado’s sovereign right to responsibly and safely regulate the oil and gas industry,” Colorado Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman said Wednesday. “This case is another unfortunate example of federal bureaucrats overstepping their authority.”
The White House characterized the fracking ruling as a temporary and isolated setback and noted that the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is also reviewing the case.