The Trump administration on Friday will officially repeal the Obama administration’s 2015 fracking rule regulating oil and natural gas drilling on federal lands.
“We believe it imposes administrative burdens and compliance costs that are not justified,” the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management wrote in a notice that it will rescind the rule, to be published in Friday’s Federal Register.
The Interior Department initially proposed ending the rule in July and wrapped up the comment period in September.
The Obama-era rule targets the practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which has made the U.S. the world’s leading producer of energy. The rule is intended to increase the safety of fracking by reducing the risk of water contamination. It would have forced companies to comply with federal safety standards in the construction of fracking wells and to disclose which chemicals they used in the fracking process.
Killing the rule has been a top priority of the oil and natural gas industry, as well as Republican lawmakers from Western states.
The rule affects oil wells on public lands that are found mainly in the West.
“We applaud the Interior Department decision to completely rescind the Obama-era rule regulating hydraulic fracturing on federal lands,” Barry Russell, president and CEO of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, said Thursday. “IPAA has long fought for independent oil and natural gas producers against an Obama-era federal rule that was overly restrictive and did not make hydraulic fracturing any safer than current state laws."
Environmental groups are expected to sue the agency after the rule is finalized, adding to the list of Trump administration actions going to court in the new year.
“The Trump administration is endangering public health and wildlife by allowing the fracking industry to run roughshod over public lands,” Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said Thursday. “Fracking is a toxic business, and that’s why states and countries have banned it. Trump’s reckless decision to repeal these common-sense protections will have serious consequences.”
The Trump administration can issue its own measure regulating fracking.