Attorney General Tim Fox announced today that Montana has joined four other states protesting the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) re-proposed rule to regulate hydraulic fracturing operations on federal and Indian lands.
In a letter to U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, the Attorneys General of Alabama, Alaska, Montana, Oklahoma, and West Virginia strongly assert that the BLM cannot justify a need for new federal regulations and requirements, which will duplicate existing state programs.
“The BLM would be hard pressed to explain why it needs to impose new ‘one-size-fits-all’ regulations on states where hydraulic fracturing operations are in place,” said Attorney General Tim Fox. “These states, including Montana, already have well trained staff who regulate fracking operations and issue permits. This is another example of the federal government trying to complicate the way states self-regulate in ways that work best for them, and could impede the development of oil and gas within their borders.”
The five Attorneys General also questioned whether the BLM has the authority to regulate land and water use within the states, in light of the Supreme Court’s long-standing recognition of state and local regulation powers, citing the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act as examples.
Before the BLM finalizes its rule, the Attorneys General asked the agency to defer to the states’ regulatory programs on federal lands, as well as identify any environmental, health, or safety concerns in relation to fracking operations that have not already been addressed by state regulators.