The Obama administration said it may appeal a federal judge's decision scrapping the Interior Department's strict rules on fracking.
The Justice Department filed notice on Friday that it is looking to appeal the decision in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The filing only protects the right to appeal within the time period allowed after a ruling is made, said an agency spokeswoman. But the department has not decided whether to actually appeal, she added.
The Tuesday ruling made by Judge Scott Skavdahl, who was appointed by President Obama, was seen as a major blow to the administration's environmental agenda, which the oil and gas industry and the GOP have adamantly opposed.
Skavdahl ruled that the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management does not have the authority to regulate fracking on public lands because Congress denied it that authority.
"Congress has not delegated to the Department of Interior the authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing," Skavdahl wrote in his Tuesday decision. "The BLM's effort to do so through the fracking rule is in excess of its statutory authority and contrary to law."